Marriage contracts

Marriages are entered for life – but one third ends in divorce. In many cases, however, the legal rules governing divorce do not fit; the most frequent cases of unbalanced results are equalisation of accrued gains and the obligation to pay alimony, for example when a spouse brings or builds up special assets into the marriage. A well-thought-out marriage contract avoids unwanted property shifts in the event of divorce and still retains the tax advantages in the event of inheritance. It must be balanced in principle, otherwise a court could judge it as invalid.
A marriage contract is comparable to a term life insurance policy. It is preferable to conclude it before or directly at the beginning of the marriage. There are only advantages to a fair and prudently drafted marriage contract: In such a contract, the spouses can regulate all the necessary points and design them themselves – and thus avoid a possible war of roses in the event of a divorce. In a marriage contract, at least the following points should be regulated:

  • Which matrimonial property regime do the spouses want to choose: simple or modified community of gain or separation of property?
  • The partners should draw up a list of assets at the time of marriage.
  • What should the post-marital spousal support look like after a divorce?
  • Should there be a pension settlement after a divorce in which each partner receives half of the other’s pension entitlements?
It happens time and again that the life situation of a married couple in the event of divorce differs considerably from the situation when the marriage contract was entered into. It is therefore helpful if a preliminary note to the marriage contract makes it clear what life situation the spouses were in at the time of the agreement. It is also advisable to include a provision according to which both partners must adapt the marriage contract if the essential fundamentals change in the future, e.g. due to employment, children or an illness.
A marriage contract must be notarised, otherwise it is invalid.

The Topics

  • Is statutory property regime of the community of accrued gains the right matrimonial property regime for me?
  • What advantages does the „modified statutory property regime of the community of accrued gains „have?
  • Do I want to be able to dispose of my assets freely?
  • Should my spouse benefit from the increase in assets of my inheritance and gifts?
  • Would I like my spouse to share my family’s fortune?
  • Should the spouse be involved in the company’s assets?
  • Which measure should apply to the obligation to pay alimony?
  • How are the child-raising periods of a spouse considered?
  • Is the pension rights equalisation in rem or under the law of obligations to be recommended?

Round Table

We rightly talk about these topics in our Round Table meetings. The Round Table is an action of Herfurth & Partner and serves to clarify and secure wishes and decisions in the family in connection with assets, provision and succession.

The next dates can be found in the Round Table section (welcome homepage).


Further information on many topics can be found in the Publications section (welcome homepage).

Your counsellor

Angelika Herfurth

Attorney at law and specialist lawyer for family law

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