How Long Will the Divorce Proceeding Take? And Related Information

April 18, 2022

Different lengths of time: Once spouses have chosen to start the divorce process, they want to know how long it will take to complete the uncontested divorce (with no ancillary issues except from pension rights adjustment). This varies by area and even department, but it largely relies on how long the slower of the two parties involved needs to clear their pension funds, because the court normally only sets the hearing date when all of the relevant information for the pension equalization is ready.

Therefore, one can stop the urgent client in advance of the procedure to clarify any gaps in the pension insurance account. If, as an applicant, you also submit the completed V10 forms of both spouses at the same time as the divorce application, several weeks of mailing time are saved.

The pension provider then communicates directly with its insured and only turns to the court if there is a lack of cooperation, so that a fine can be imposed if necessary. During this time, which lasts weeks or months, the file lies unprocessed both with the court and with the lawyer. The pension information about the marriage then goes to the court and is distributed from there to the parties involved.

If you explain the procedure to your client at the beginning of the procedure, for example with a leaflet, you can make it clear to him that it is not your fault if “nothing happens” in the file for months. This prevents dissatisfaction.

The Hearing in Divorce Proceedings

Subject of the hearing: The following hearing at the court according to § 128 deals with the question of when the parties started living separately, how the separation took place (who moved out when?), where the last marital residence was (important for the notification of the court to the registry office), whether there have been attempts at reconciliation and whether the spouses consider the marriage to have failed.

The reasons for the failure are not asked in the case of an undisputed divorce, because the disruption is obvious when the year of separation is behind the spouses and both want to get divorced.

Structure of the hearing date: The structure of the hearing date is formally different depending on the judge. Some arrange it as a casual conversation, others anticipate what they know from the file, dictate it into their voice recorder as a participant hearing and only ask the participants if everything was recorded correctly. Some judges stand up to announce the divorce decree, while others remain informal or even dictate in the minutes: “The decree that can be seen in the annex is issued,” and possibly add the following explanation: “You are now divorced.”

Miscellaneous Scenarios

You can convey a more competent image of yourself to the client if you know the customs of the responsible judge and prepare the client individually for this in the discussion before the appointment. Therefore, a note should always be included in the file as to which judge is responsible as soon as the file number is known.

Signature: Nothing is signed. This often surprises those involved. However, your signature is part of the “special power of attorney” according to § 114 Para. 5, which the divorce attorney in San Diego has obtained for representation in the divorce proceedings.

Not open to the public: Incidentally, proceedings in matrimonial matters are not public, so new partners and other companions have to wait in the hallway. For training purposes, interns, legal trainees or similar may be present if everyone agrees. The divorce decision is usually made immediately, as a so-called “chair decision”; only in complicated cases is a separate announcement scheduled. Publicity is (theoretically) restored for the announcement of the decision. In practice, of course, no one opens the door and invites relatives in to witness the announcement.

Legal force of the divorce

Waiver of appeal: If both sides are represented by a lawyer, a waiver of appeal can be declared at the appointment, and legal force will take effect immediately. Otherwise, the opponent, who is not represented by a lawyer, should be kindly explained that the divorce decree that will soon be sent to him is worthless without the legal force note, which he must obtain himself.

The client is provided with the legal validity notice without being asked by returning the copy to the court for this purpose approx. one month after delivery.

So if the divorce decision arrives at the law office, the deadline for appeals should be noted as usual, even if it is already known that no appeal is to be lodged. The expiry of the period then reminds of the legal force notice.

Divorce Proceedings Costs

Lawyer liable for costs: In the case of an uncontested divorce, the parties often agree to share the costs of “one” lawyer. However, the attorney’s only debtor is his client, whose possible reimbursement claims against the ex-partner are not his business. The party who initially gave the mandate for the out-of-court advice remains the client for the divorce proceedings, even if in the course of the discussion a different arrangement is suggested or desired for any reason (e.g. because of cheaper legal aid options).

Course of a joint divorce proceeding (“disputed”)

Three-year separation period in the event of disagreement: If, after the year of separation, the opponent of the application credibly demonstrates that the marriage has not broken down and that he is ready to resume marital cohabitation, the applicant may have to wait three years of separation before the desired divorce can be obtained (§ 1566 Para. 2 BGB).

In this respect, it is a contentious procedure, because the question of whether there is a divorce is already contentious.

However, it is more common that the spouses do not agree on the question of the breakdown, but rather the economic disentanglement of the marriage is disputed.

Compulsory lawyer in disputed divorce proceedings

If such applications are made, the court works towards ensuring that the respondent also receives legal assistance in accordance with Section 138. The opponent does not require legal representation only in the enumerated cases of § 114 Para. 4, of which the urgent proceedings, applications for separation and VKH examination proceedings are of practical relevance.

Requirements for the pronouncement of divorce; Assertion in association

Decision maturity of all applications in the joint proceedings: The divorce is only pronounced when all pending applications in the divorce joint proceedings are ready for a decision. In the forced association, the pension equalization is ex officio. If the claimant makes the ancillary matter pending while the matrimonial matter is pending, the “vacuum cleaner” association takes over the ancillary matter in accordance with §§ 123, 137.