Spouses are entitled to alimony from each other in different ways:

  • Family maintenance (§ 1360 BGB)
  • Separation maintenance (§ 1361 BGB)
  • post-marital maintenance (§§ 1570 ff. BGB)

Family maintenance

A spouse who is not gainfully employed and who is the sole head of the household can claim family support for household and pocket money from the spouse who is the sole earner (§ 1360 BGB). A marriage with a sole earner is the exception today, and family maintenance is therefore rarely claimed today.


Separation maintenance

Separation maintenance can be claimed by those who are permanently separated from their spouse, who are in need and if the other spouse is capable of performing well.

Whoever wants to receive separation support must explicitly claim it. If the conditions are met, the partner must pay it from the time of the claim. This claim is valid until the divorce becomes final.

If a spouse wants to receive separation support for as long as possible, he or she will claim this maintenance immediately upon separation and later try to delay the divorce proceedings as long as possible. All the later the, usually limited, post-marital maintenance begins. If a spouse wants to end the separation support as soon as possible, he or she should try to get a divorce date as soon as possible. Separation support cannot be waived by contract. However, the amount of the payment can be regulated in a post-divorce agreement – keyword: fairness.

Support for spouses after marriage

The spouse must also explicitly claim post-marital spousal support. If the conditions are met (own need and ability to pay of the other spouse), it is payable as of the legal force of the divorce. Today it is common practice to limit the duration and amount of maintenance payments. The reason for this lies in the personal responsibility of each spouse to provide for his or her own maintenance after the divorce (§ 1569 BGB). In addition, the dual-earner marriage is the model today and most spouses return to their old profession as early as possible.

Even if there is no prenuptial agreement, a post-divorce agreement can contain a provision on post-marital maintenance. This can be done in notarial form or the agreement can be recorded in court at the divorce hearing.

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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