Are you an expat living in Germany who is (going to be) married?

We can advise you on the need for a prenuptial agreement and

draft one that is appropriate for the international context of your marriage.

Get in touch with us without obligation!

Find out why we are special.

"
Experiences & Reviews of Steltzer Attorneys at Law + Mediators

Also known from:

Experiences & Reviews of Steltzer Attorneys at Law + Mediators

Also known from:

Our specialty

 

Legally, we are only allowed to advise one of the (future) spouses, but…

This does not prevent us from fully involving your partner if you wish.

And we mediate in case there are conflicts.

You will find this with very few lawyers who draft prenups.

Look no further,

Trust our know-how and our experience as divorce lawyers and mediators.

After all, the best prenuptial agreements are drawn up by divorce lawyers who know what could later be argued about. This is us.

The special thing about our advice is that we can involve your partner right from the start.

As trained and experienced mediators, we have a sensitive approach to discussing potential points of conflict with both of you.

This largely eliminates the risk that drawing up your marriage contract could jeopardize your marriage. On the contrary, talking to your partner about how you both envision your relationship, also with a view to the future in 5, 10 or 20 years’ time, can be the basis for a healthy, adult and – yes – romantic love relationship .

Many couples feel the desire to protect themselves legally in view of a planned or already completed marriage and therefore want to seek advice from a lawyer on the possibilities of a marriage contract. However, the lawyer they consult often tells the couple that he will only advise one of the (future) spouses and that the other is not allowed to be present. This is why the other partner is often not even heard by the lawyer who is supposed to draft the agreement. This is often unsatisfactory not only for the partner concerned.

It isn’t uncommon for only one of the partners to want a prenuptial agreement or advice on this. However, this partner does not know how to discuss the issue with their partner without risking an argument. After all, many consider a prenuptial agreement to be completely unromantic.

It is not your fault if you find yourself in such a situation and do not know how to deal with it. After all, who can help you communicate with your partner and answer your legal questions with legal certainty?

The solution is in front of you. Although we only advise one of the spouses, as this is not legally possible otherwise, we can fully involve your spouse with their questions and desires if you wish. We can also use our skills as trained mediators to defuse potential conflicts and work out solutions.

It is rarely too late for a prenuptial agreement, but the sooner you conclude one, the better. Because in good times you make provisions for possible bad times.

We know your thoughts and feelings about marriage, both professionally and privately. We, the partners of this law firm, are married and have two children. We therefore also know the inside view and are aware of this: Ultimately, a prenuptial agreement is about security. We are proud to have used our knowledge and experience to help a large number of clients to start their marriage with an overview and the good feeling of having settled all the important matters.

Request an initial consultation with us, during which we will clarify all of your pressing questions with you alone or together with your partner. If you then decide on a prenuptial agreement, we will draft it within 14 days. We discuss the design until you are satisfied. Then we will organize a notarial appointment for you, because a marriage contract must be notarized in order to be effective.

If you are thinking about a prenuptial agreement, an initial consultation with us is the best way to find out whether you need one at all, which provisions are suitable for you and what the procedure is. You can therefore only gain a clearer head if you contact us now and we look forward to hearing from you.

It isn’t uncommon for only one of the partners to want a prenuptial agreement or advice on this. However, this partner does not know how to discuss the issue with their partner without risking an argument. After all, many consider a prenuptial agreement to be completely unromantic.

It is not your fault if you find yourself in such a situation and do not know how to deal with it. After all, who can help you communicate with your partner and answer your legal questions with legal certainty?

The solution is in front of you. Although we only advise one of the spouses, as this is not legally possible otherwise, we can fully involve your spouse with their questions and desires if you wish. We can also use our skills as trained mediators to defuse potential conflicts and work out solutions.

It is rarely too late for a prenuptial agreement, but the sooner you conclude one, the better. Because in good times you make provisions for possible bad times.

We know your thoughts and feelings about marriage, both professionally and privately. We, the partners of this law firm, are married and have two children. We therefore also know the inside view and are aware of this: Ultimately, a prenuptial agreement is about security. We are proud to have used our knowledge and experience to help a large number of clients to start their marriage with an overview and the good feeling of having settled all the important matters.

Request an initial consultation with us, during which we will clarify all of your pressing questions with you alone or together with your partner. If you then decide on a prenuptial agreement, we will draft it within 14 days. We discuss the design until you are satisfied. Then we will organize a notarial appointment for you, because a marriage contract must be notarized in order to be effective.

If you are thinking about a prenuptial agreement, an initial consultation with us is the best way to find out whether you need one at all, which provisions are suitable for you and what the procedure is. You can therefore only gain a clearer head if you contact us now and we look forward to hearing from you.

Book an initial consultation with us

You can invite your partner, too.

Do you have any questions in advance?

Give us a call at:

…or write us:

A marriage contract provides security.

We believe that it can even be the basis for real understanding and a lifelong partnership and is therefore by no means unromantic.

F.A.Q.

Frequently Asked Questions about marriage contracts

Do I even need a prenuptial agreement?

– and the 10 most frequently asked questions about prenuptial agreements

Marriage automatically has far-reaching legal consequences. It can therefore make sense to make provision for the event of divorce with a marriage contract. But do you need a prenuptial agreement? We will be happy to discuss all your questions during an
initial consultation
.

However, we have already compiled the answers to the 10 most frequently asked questions for you here:

1 When does a prenuptial agreement make sense?

A marriage contract usually makes sense:

  • in the case of binational marriages or foreign connections, e.g. in the case of (planned) longer stays abroad
  • if you have or want to have children (in a dual-earner marriage and one of the spouses puts their career on hold to care for the children).
  • to protect and preserve companies that could otherwise be ruined by the payment of equalization of accrued gains
  • if one or both partners own assets, e.g. large sums of money, real estate
  • if larger increases in assets (e.g. through inheritance) are foreseeable
  • if there is a large age difference between the spouses
2. What can be regulated in the marriage contract?
  • choice of law, i.e. determination of the law applicable in the event of divorce
  • Separation of Property (agreement on separation of property instead of the otherwise automatically existing community of accrued gains upon marriage)
  • Modification of the community of accrued gains 
  • Cancellation of the restrictions on disposal pursuant to Sections 1365, 1369 BGB
  • Maintenance provisions 
  • Marital home
  • Custody and contact rights (children)
  • Other Agreements in case of divorce (e.g. continuation of the married name, division of household effects)
3. What is the default matrimonial property regime and what matrimonial property regimes are there?

There are different matrimonial property regimes to choose from. If there is no choice made, the spouses live under the statutory matrimonial property regime of the community of accrued gains after the marriage.

The community of accrued gains

Unless otherwise stipulated in the marriage contract, married couples who live together in Germany after their marriage generally live under the community of accrued gains regime. In the case of a community of accrued gains, the assets brought into the marriage by each spouse remain their property. In principle, everyone is allowed to dispose of their possessions as they wish.  There are exceptions for household items and – of course – for joint property that was acquired jointly by the spouses. If the matrimonial property regime ends (e.g. in the event of a divorce), the equalization of gains takes place. Then the first step is to determine the amount by which the spouses have each increased their assets during the marriage. The respective assets at the beginning and end of the property regime are compared for both spouses. Of course, debts reduce assets at the points in time in question. The result is the gain of each spouse. A loss of purchasing power is taken into account in the initial assets and therefore generally reduces the calculated (nominal) gain. The difference between the two gains of the spoueses is then calculated and the party whose gain was smaller can demand half of the excess amount from the other party.

Inheritances and gifts are generally not included in the gain if one of the spouses receives them from a third party on the basis of a personal relationship. They are added to the initial assets and thus treated as if the respective spouse had already had them before the marriage (§ 1374 para. 2 BGB). The payment of the equalization of accrued gains is tax-free which is an advantage that can be made use of when drafting a prenup.

The separation of property

If the spouses opt for separation of property in a marriage contract, there is no equalization of gains in the event of divorce or death. Each spouse retains the assets that were previously his or her own and also what was earned during the marriage. This is practical in the event of a divorce. However, if the marriage ends not through divorce but through the death of one spouse, assets are given away because in the event of death, the surviving spouse does not receive an inheritance tax-free lump-sum settlement of the gain that would otherwise be due under the community of accrued gains regime. A clever way to avoid these disadvantages is the modified community of accrued gains.

Community of property

The community of property regime has become almost meaningless in practice. Under this system, the spouses become joint owners of practically all property that the spouses own and acquire.

4. What is the pension rights equalization?

In the event of divorce, the so-called pension equalization is carried out by law. Exceptions often apply to marriages of foreigners, but as a rule the exclusion of pension equalization can only be legally secured by a marriage contract.

What happens in the event of pension rights equalization? Similar to the equalization of gains the entitlements or prospects for retirement acquired during the marriage are divided between the spouses. The pension rights equalization can be excluded upon agreement of the spouses. However, this only applies if both spouses have sufficient retirement provision or are in a position to build up such provision.

5. Can a marriage contract be invalid?

From the point of view of the principle of contractual freedom, so-called precautionary marriage contracts with exclusion clauses on gains, pension equalization and maintenance were largely considered permissible until 2001. After 2001, case law developed a standard of review for marriage contracts that incorporates the statutory family law provisions. In its landmark ruling of February 11, 2004, the BGH already stated that there can be no such thing as a universally valid and unchallangeable marriage contract. This decision and the subsequent decisions provide a guideline for the drafting of marriage contracts. Marriage contracts remain possible, sensible and often times necessary. 

As a result of the decisions of the Federal Court of Justice, any marriage contract claiming that it contains an obviously one-sided and unjustifiable distribution of burdens can be subject to judicial review.

Examination and control of the marriage contract for legal effectiveness

The courts (and previously the advising lawyer) must carry out a two-stage examination of the marriage contract, whereby the following must be taken into account

  • Stage 1 the contract is subjected to an effectiveness check in accordance with § 138 BGB. The point in time at which the contract is concluded must be taken into account here. It is examined whether an obvious one-sided distribution of burdens was already envisaged “back then” in the event of divorce.
  • At level 2, the contract must stand up to an exercise control in accordance with Section 242 BGB. The relevant time for this examination is the time of the breakdown of the marriage, i.e. the question of whether “now” the contractual provisions are evidently unilaterally burdensome.

If the examination reveals an immorality at the first level or a breach of good faith at the second level, the contract is invalid.

The core area doctrine of the BGH

The BGH makes reference to the so-called core areas of the law on the consequences of divorce, which should be subject to special judicial review whenever deviations from the law can be found.

These are the core areas :

  • Care maintenance, for spouses who look after a small child under the age of three, § 1570 BGB
  • Old-age maintenance according to § 1571 BGB
  • Sickness maintenance according to § 1572 BGB
  • Health and pension maintenance, § 1578 para. 2, 1st alt., para. 3 BGB
  • Pension rights equalization as anticipated maintenance for old-age provision

On the other hand the following topics are ranked lower in its importance and thus are accessible for agreements deviating from the law:

  • Training and top-up maintenance
  • Matrimonial property regimes, in particular the modification of equalization of accrued gains (a detailed description of the matrimonial property regimes can be found above under FAQ No. 4).
6. How is a marriage contract concluded?

A marriage contract must be notarized .

It is possible to conclude a marriage contract at any time, both before the marriage and during the marriage. Contractual arrangements are also useful if you wish to separate and divorce. 

A marriage contract that has already been concluded can also be annulled, amended or supplemented by another one if there is mutual agreement. Both spouses must agree to the changes. Unilateral changes to existing marriage contracts can’t be made.

7. What is the advantage of instructing a lawyer to draw up a marriage contract if the notary can do the same?

The advantage of a marriage contract drawn up by a family law lawyer is that he  deals with family law issues on a daily basis and knows what’s important inside and outside court, especially in the event of a divorce. Particularly in special constellations, such as patchwork families and company shareholdings, individual advice from an experienced lawyer for family law and corporate law is recommended.

8. What questions arise in connection with a marriage contract?

If you want to conclude a marriage contract, you can expect these questions from the lawyer:

  • Is there already an agreement?
  • Are there already inheritance dispositions (will)?
  • Is one of the spouses or both entrepreneurs?
  • Is there a pregnancy?
  • Do you want to have children?
  • Do you already have children, possibly from other partnerships?
  • Would you like to make an arrangement regarding custody and contact?
  • How should the marriage be categorized (housewife marriage/double-earner marriage)?
  • What are your career intentions and what is your professional career to date?
  • How long have you been working?
  • What is the current asset situation?
  • Are there already inherited assets, shareholdings in companies, real estate, other capital assets?
  • Have you been living together for some time and acquired joint assets (property) before the marriage?
  • What should the family name be and should it be retained in the event of divorce?
  • What will happen to pets (if any)?
9. Notarization in another language?

Marriage contracts that are to be governed primarily by German law should, if possible, be notarized in German so that the legal terms can be used unambiguously. Automatic translations with minor adaptations are usually sufficient to reproduce the content of the contract in other languages. The binding version (in German) must be translated by an interpreter during the notarization if there is no other way of ensuring that both spouses understand the words spoken by the notary (often times only in German).

10. What costs can be expected?

The costs for the preparation of a marriage contract by us depend on the complexity and economic importance of the matter and are invoiced on the basis of an individual remuneration agreement.

The costs for notarization depend on the value of the subject matter, which is mainly determined by the assets of the spouses.

Important information in brief

i

A marriage contract must be notarized.

w

Legal advice is recommended despite the need for notarization. Only one spouse can be advised by a lawyer, but this can also be done with the involvement of the other spouse.

A marriage contract can be concluded both before and after the marriage. However, it is usually advisable to conclude a prenup  instead of a postnup.

We are fully digital and will be happy to advise you via video conference.

Don’t fish in the dark!

Request an initial consultation with us.

Do you have any questions in advance?

Give us a call at:

…or write us:

Fast availability of consultation appointments.

The first draft of an individual marriage contract is usually drafted within 14 days.

The path to a marriage contract

We will guide you through the process step by step.

Step 1

Initial consultation

In the initial consultation, we clarify whether a prenuptial agreement makes sense in your case and which arrangements are desirable and possible. We will advise you on your concerns in a video conference.

Step 2

Draft

Based on the information you provide, we will draw up a customized draft of a prenuptial agreement. This will always contain an illustrative and a regulating part in order to ensure effectiveness as far as possible. In addition to the legal regulations, the illustrative part is also important. It describes the personal and economic circumstances of the partners and their expectations of marital cohabitation.

Step 3

Notary

We organize a notary appointment at your location and make the necessary arrangements with the notary’s office. As a rule, we are also available to answer questions during the notary appointment.

Our office is located on Kurfürstendamm 167/168 in Berlin. But thanks to virtual conference rooms, we are there for you worldwide.

Experiences & Reviews of Steltzer Attorneys at Law + Mediators