Are partnerships safer than property rights

Separation of unmarried couples: who is allowed to keep what, how maintenance is regulated and more

Life & Leisure

If two people decide to go their separate ways in the future, there are usually a few things to regulate: who will move out of the apartment, what happens to the common property, who will keep the pet and what should be considered with regard to child maintenance? ROLAND partner lawyer Sandra Neumann from the law firm Kaiser und Kollegen explains the facts.

What do I own after a breakup?

“With unmarried couples, everyone retains ownership of the things they have brought into the relationship,” says Sandra Neumann. "You can take these with you after the breakup." Even things that a partner has bought alone during the relationship are basically his property.

If things were selected and paid for together, then they are in the so-called “co-ownership of the partners”. The lawyer adds: “However, it is not absolutely necessary that both must have paid exactly half the amount; a compensation through another financial expenditure of the couple is basically sufficient. " In the case of vehicles, it is particularly important who is entered in the vehicle registration document and who mainly used the vehicle.

An amicable solution should be found for the jointly purchased items. "If you can't agree who is allowed to keep the item, you could sell the item and share the proceeds between the ex-partners," suggests Sandra Neumann. "If a partner does not agree to the sale of the item, a division auction - often also called a foreclosure auction - comes into consideration, in which everyone receives half of the proceeds."

How do I prove who bought what?

The best way to prove who has paid for which items if the receipts or purchase invoices are still available. This can also be traced back to the transfer receipts. But you can also create an inventory list in which you list the individual items according to price, time of purchase and ownership. However, the lawyer admits: "This can of course be very time-consuming and therefore impractical."

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Who has to move out of the shared apartment?

The same applies here: First of all, you should talk about it openly. Perhaps an ex does not want to stay in the environment where there is still a lot to remind you of the relationship? However, if both are in the lease and want to stay in the apartment, an agreement must be found. Lawyer Neumann explains: “There is no regulation like in marriage, that one can apply to the court for an apartment allocation according to need or equity, does not exist with the non-marital partnership.”

So there are the following options:

  • The ex-partners terminate their apartment together. "A termination by only one partner is ineffective," explains Sandra Neumann.
  • One of the two stays in the apartment after the agreement. “You can try to get your partner moving out of the lease contract with the landlord, which shouldn't be a problem if the remaining partner's income is sufficient,” says the lawyer. The person who leaves the joint apartment has the right to have the ex-partner consent to his termination. However, you do not have a claim against the landlord to adjust the rental agreement accordingly.

What if you share a house?

In the case of a jointly acquired property, the separated couple has three options:

  • One of them stays in the house, takes it over for sole ownership and pays the other one.
  • Both agree on a sale and split the proceeds in half.
  • If both parties cannot agree, there is only a division auction (compulsory auction).

What happens to common pets?

A dog, cat or other pet that one has brought into the relationship can be taken with them after the separation. An amicable solution should be found for jointly purchased animals. Sandra Neumann explains: “Before the law, pets are considered household items and must be divided up like this. Since this is of course not possible in nature, the former couple must agree on where the animal should stay in the future. If that doesn't work, a decision can be made in court - as a rule, the person who keeps the animal then has to make a compensation payment. " In fact, different courts have already negotiated the rights of masters and mistresses with their animal friends - with different outcomes.

What are the regulations for children together with regard to maintenance and custody?

Separation is always difficult. The situation is even more stressful when there are children together. After the love has ended, many questions then arise. Do the children stay with their mother or father? Who has custody? Who has to pay maintenance and how much? Family lawyer Sandra Neumann advises separated couples to speak openly about it and to keep an eye on the needs of the children.

Basically, it makes a legal difference whether a couple is married or not. For example with custody:

  • The father and mother automatically have joint custody of children born in wedlock. The lawyer: "They keep this even in the event of separation or divorce - unless it is negotiated in a custody process."
  • In principle, the mother has sole custody of children born out of wedlock. Lawyer Neumann: "The father only has custody if he has recognized paternity - which is possible even before the child is born - and the parents have submitted the joint declaration of custody or the family court has transferred joint custody to the parents."

In addition to the parent with whom the child does not live, grandparents, siblings and other close relatives also have access rights if this is in the child's best interests.

There are also different regulations with regard to maintenance payments:

  • In the case of married couples, the person with whom the children do not live has to pay cash maintenance. Sandra Neumann: "The other person pays for their maintenance through care and upbringing." The caring parent receives maintenance for the joint underage children (or children in training) and, if necessary, for themselves (spouse maintenance). Until the divorce, the person is entitled to separation maintenance. In divorce proceedings, post-marital maintenance is negotiated. You can find out more about spousal support here.
  • In the case of unmarried couples, the illegitimate child is also entitled to maintenance. The partner who takes care of the child after the separation can claim childcare support for the first three years of life after the birth. In addition, maintenance may be required if necessary. Various factors are examined as part of a so-called equity check. There are various child and parent-related reasons that justify a maintenance claim:

Child related reasons

  • no possibility of outside care for the child
  • serious illness, disability or developmental disorder of the child

Parent-related reasons

  • serious illness or disability of the carer
  • Several years of marriage-like coexistence with the parent and common desire to have children
  • high earnings of the person liable for maintenance

Basically, the lawyer explains: “You can easily claim maintenance against the other parent via a maintenance assistant at the youth welfare office. Alternatively, a lawyer can be called in, but you have to pay for him yourself. "

The amount of maintenance depends on the income; the rates are specified in the so-called Düsseldorf table. If the person liable does not pay, the maintenance can also be sued in court. However, the prerequisite is that the former partner is productive. You can find more about child support and a child support calculator here.

What applies to the separation of a registered partnership?

In the case of a registered civil partnership, the consequences of separation are the same as those of marriage. According to Paragraph 15 of the Civil Partnership Act, one can apply for the termination of the civil partnership,

  • if you have been separated for a year and both apply for annulment or
  • one applies for revocation and the other agrees.

If one does not want the annulment, a three-year separation period is necessary, as is the case with marriage. "The same applies to maintenance, housing, household items and the division of property as to a marriage, either through direct application via the Civil Partnership Act or a reference in the Civil Partnership Act to the regulations on marriage," says Sandra Neumann.

What other tips should couples keep in mind when they are separated?

According to lawyer Neumann, the following facts are still important:

  • In general, the provisions on marriage of the German Civil Code (BGB) cannot be applied to the non-marital cohabitation and the dispute is more difficult after a separation.
  • Accounts and valuables, like other things, remain the property of whoever they belong to. You can simply take it with you. The ex-partners must split the credit balances on joint accounts in half.
  • Power of attorney for the account of the other person should be revoked immediately after the separation.
  • Joint loans are to be serviced by both parties as joint and several debtors. Unless the property that was financed with it, only benefits one partner, for example he keeps it after the separation. The other partner can then request that he be released from paying the further installments.
  • For general benefits (housekeeping, financing of livelihoods and vacations, rental costs, etc.), after the separation, you can usually not demand any compensation. Something else is only considered in rare exceptional cases.

Our partner lawyer

Sandra Neumann is a lawyer and heads the family law department at Kaiser & Kollegen Rechtsanwälte. The law firm is headquartered in Mannheim and also has branches in Hamburg, Munich, Bensheim a.d. Bergstrasse and Wiesloch. Sandra Neumann, lawyer, works mainly in the areas of family law and civil law. In family law, in which Ms. Neumann specializes, she advises and represents clients nationwide on issues such as separation, divorce, alimony and custody. The law firm Kaiser & Kollegen Rechtsanwälte currently offers 10 lawyers, including specialist lawyers and mediators, competent legal advice in a large number of other areas of law. Relevant here are labor law, criminal law and tenancy law.

Sandra Neumann

Law firm Kaiser & Kollegen Rechtsanwälte

This article is part of the series "Private Legal Protection"