Can I remarry my spouse in Singapore?

Marriage issues

1. Domestic marriage

A valid marriage can only be concluded in Germany in the form prescribed by German law. If the home law of the foreign weddings requires another form (e.g. church wedding), the couple must also endeavor to comply with this foreign provision. The marriage must be registered with the responsible registry office.

A marriage can also be applied for in Germany if part of the couple is still abroad. The registry offices provide information about the procedure to be followed.

a) General requirements for marriage

In principle, the marriage must be permissible under the law of both partners. Just as a German partner has to prove his or her ability to marry under German law, a foreign partner must also meet the requirements for marriage under the law of their home country. This includes the age of majority or an exemption from the requirement of marriage for persons between 16 and 18 years of age. Furthermore, there must be no obstacles to marriage. Such obstacles to marriage can result from relatives, an adoption relationship or a still existing marriage.

b) Certificate of marital status for foreigners

A certificate of marital eligibility is required from foreigners wishing to marry. This certificate is the confirmation that the marriage according to the laws of the home country does not prevent marriage, in particular that there is no other marriage.

The certificate of marital status is issued by an authority in the home country or by the diplomatic mission abroad, provided that international treaties allow this. However, the consular mission of the home country in Germany will regularly be able to arrange the necessary contacts with the home authorities. The validity of the certificate of marital status is a maximum of six months.

In the case of stateless persons with habitual residence abroad or of nationals of such countries who do not issue certificates of marital status or which do not comply with German regulations, the Higher Regional Court (in Berlin the Higher Regional Court) can grant an exemption. The registry office is responsible for receiving the application; it also provides information on the required documents.

If necessary, the registrar asks for a certificate of no objection to marriage or a certificate of uniqueness issued by the consulate, for proof of the home contingent, the declaration of willingness to marry or the health certificate. If the foreign partner has already been married, the foreign divorce decree must also be submitted.

It should be noted that the procurement of the necessary documents as well as any necessary legalization notes from the German diplomatic mission abroad can take a total of several months in individual cases.

2. Marriage abroad

In the case of a marriage abroad, the formal requirements of the foreign country apply. If, for example, only the church wedding is recognized there, this marriage is also valid under German law, although a civil marriage would have been necessary here.

Abroad, the German marriage certificate is required from the German wishing to marry. This is issued by the registry office responsible for the place of residence. Alternatively, the actual place of residence or the last habitual residence is sufficient to determine the jurisdiction of the registry office. In various cases, a medical health certificate may also be required.

Germans living abroad can also contact the registry office I in Berlin. Anyone who wants a German certificate of the marriage entered into abroad can apply for a family register to be created at the registry office responsible.

3. Various questions of marriage law

a) Family status and property regime

The general effects of marriage (family statute) are regulated differently in the individual states. In individual cases, it can be difficult to determine which law is applicable to, for example, the property regime, divorce proceedings, the obligation to be married, the power of keys and housekeeping.

If there is no common home law, the respective habitual residence of both spouses determines the applicable law. If both spouses live in a third country of which they are not citizens, they can determine the legal provisions of one of their home countries on the family status. Such a choice of law must be notarized; however, it is not always recognized in other countries.

The statutory property law in Germany is - if the spouses do not have any other agreement, e.g. B. through a notarial marriage contract - the separation of property with gain compensation (community of gains). This German law only applies to spouses with different nationalities if they both had their habitual residence in the Federal Republic at the time of the marriage. However, if the spouses both had their habitual residence in a foreign state at the time of the marriage, the questions of property law are based on the law of that state.

If the spouses neither had a common nationality nor a common habitual residence at the time of the marriage, the property law of the state to which the spouses were most closely connected, in particular due to their origin, culture, language, and occupation, applies. It depends on the individual case. Special rules apply to marriages concluded before April 9, 1983.

There is also a right to vote in property law. Before the notary, the spouses can decide before the marriage (but also after the marriage) that the law of one of their home countries or the law of the habitual residence of a spouse should apply to questions of property law. This choice can be changed at any time. There is more freedom for marriage contracts with property law than with other marital effects. Special regulations apply to properties. It is recommended to inform yourself in good time, in order to later e.g. B. to experience no unpleasant surprises when buying a property, when moving to another country or during divorce proceedings.

In the event that the German wife of a foreigner would like to marry him in a different cultural area, it can make sense to conclude a corresponding marriage contract. This would help her to assert her rights, which are self-evident in Germany (such as employment, independent child-rearing, maintenance and personal property) in the other country as well.

b) married name

In the case of a domestic marriage, the registrar will ask the couple what name to use in the marriage. Both the naming law of the foreign spouse and the German naming law can be chosen, according to which either the maiden name of the husband or that of the wife can be declared the joint married name or a joint married name can be waived.

If a married name has not yet been chosen when marrying abroad, the spouses can then declare in front of the German registrar that they want to use the family name in accordance with the law of the state to which the foreign spouse belongs. If at least one spouse has their habitual residence in Germany or if German law is decisive for the general effects of the marriage, the spouses can also choose the German name law. This declaration must be made if the family name is to be entered in a German civil status register. If this is not done, the German spouse will keep the family name that he had at the time of the marriage.

Before choosing the right name, the possible different effects on the determination of the surname of the children born in marriage should be carefully examined and assessed.

It should be borne in mind that in many countries of origin of foreign spouses, the choice of name made in Germany is not recognizable (e.g. for the name designation in documents and passports issued by the country of origin). Therefore, the couple should inform themselves carefully about the naming rights of the country of origin before deciding on the family name.

c) Spousal maintenance

If both spouses have their habitual residence in Germany, their maintenance relationships are generally determined according to German law. If the spouse entitled to maintenance lives abroad, their maintenance claims are based on the law of their habitual residence; in the case of divorced people, something else applies.

If the law of habitual residence does not grant any maintenance claim at all, the maintenance obligation is to be assessed according to German law. If the spouse entitled to maintenance lives in Germany, their maintenance claims and those of their children in the event of a separation (before a divorce) are determined according to German law.

4. Divorce, post-marital maintenance, pension adjustment

Regardless of where and under what law the marriage was concluded, divorce proceedings can be carried out in German courts. Which law is to be applied is decided according to the family statute. If the spouses were domiciled in Germany when the application for divorce was served or their last joint domicile was here, they will be divorced under German law. All claims resulting from this, such as maintenance and compensation for profits, are then regularly based on German law. If a spouse was German at the time of the marriage, the marriage will in principle be divorced under German law even if the marriage could not (yet) be divorced under the actually applicable foreign law.

If foreign divorce law is to be applied in individual cases, this will have a significant impact on the court's decision, in particular on pension compensation, maintenance claims and custody. Under certain conditions, a pension adjustment under German law can be carried out on request if this would not be possible under the applicable foreign law. Difficulties can arise with the recognition of foreign divorce judgments in Germany and the recognition of German divorce judgments abroad.

It is urgently recommended to find out about the diverse and complicated legal issues involved in divorce between Germans and foreigners.

II. Right of residence

Foreigners generally need a residence permit to stay in the Federal Republic of Germany. For foreigners who are married to Germans, special residence rules apply, which take into account the basic rights protection of marriage and family in the case of actually existing marital partnerships.

1. Stay before marriage

An intended marriage or an illegitimate cohabitation alone are not sufficient to receive a residence permit. Who is not already with a residence permit - z. B. as a foreign student, family member or employee - residing in Germany, usually requires a visa from the German diplomatic mission to enter the country.

Anyone who has legally entered the country as a tourist - be it as a citizen of a state with a privileged residence permit for up to three months or with a temporary visitor's visa - can only expect an extension of the legal tourist stay to a maximum of six months in exceptional cases. For citizens of a member state of the European Economic Area (EEA) * and Switzerland, additional freedom of movement rights apply.

It is very important to carefully coordinate the entry for the wedding and the date of the marriage, since in individual cases the procurement of the necessary documents and the civil procedure can take a long time. Under certain circumstances (even in the case of a legal visit at the beginning) an exit and - possibly requiring a visa - re-entry on the date of the marriage in Germany must be accepted.

If the bi-national couple already has a joint minor child for whom paternity has been recognized or established, the foreign parent may have the option of obtaining a residence permit before or independently of a marriage (with regard to the German child) . The prerequisite is that the foreign parent has personal custody and exercises this within the framework of a family relationship with the child or, if he is not entitled to custody, a community of support and care already exists in Germany.

2. Stay after marriage

The marriage usually gives rise to a right to the issue of a residence permit.

It is unimportant whether the marriage took place in Germany, but in any case both partners must want to lead the marital partnership in Germany. Foreigners who are legally (e.g. as a visitor with tourist status, as a student with a residence permit or as holder of a residence permit), tolerated or as asylum seekers with a residence permit in Germany can receive the residence permit here at the time of the marriage. However, if the stay is not or no longer legal (e.g. due to illegal entry or an obligation to leave the country), it may be necessary to leave the country. The family reunification visa must then be applied for at the German diplomatic mission in the respective home country. In principle, however, there is a right of entry.

The residence permit can be refused under certain circumstances. This is the case, for example, if the marital relationship no longer exists, there are serious reasons for deportation (e.g. serious criminal offenses) or an entry and residence ban has previously arisen due to deportation or deportation. The duration of this prohibition is usually limited on application.

a) Period of validity of residence permits

As a rule, the residence permit is initially issued for a limited period of three years. The foreign spouse then receives a permanent residence permit if the legally specified integration conditions are met.

After five years of possession of the residence permit, the right of residence can be considered special if the other requirements are met (i.e. in particular with a secure livelihood, sufficient living space, verbal knowledge of the German language, payment of sixty monthly contributions to pension insurance or comparable expenses, no serious convictions and no other reasons for deportation) strong residence security will be granted.

b) Children of the foreign spouse

If the foreign spouse brings unmarried minor children into the marriage, their right of residence in Germany is based on the general regulations governing immigration of children.

If the other parent of the child also lives with a residence permit or a residence permit in Germany or if he has died, children under 16 years of age have them

a reunification claim. In other cases, the immigration authority decides at its own discretion, taking into account the best interests of the child, in particular the child's living situation in the home country, other family issues and Germany's immigration and integration issues.

In the case of children between 16 and 18 years of age, the immigration authority also decides at its own discretion. Except in cases of particular hardship, it will have to take into account the need to lead a family relationship and the exercise of custody by the foreign spouse, especially in Germany, as well as the young person's chances of integration (e.g. good German language skills).

As a rule, a residence permit will only be issued if the foreign parent has sufficient living space and the livelihood is secured from their own resources. A declaration of commitment by the German spouse is also possible, provided that the child's livelihood can be proven.

c) Employment

Anyone who as a foreigner (foreigner) with the German spouse (with the German spouse) has the habitual residence in Germany due to the family cohabitation and is in possession of the corresponding residence permit, has a right to the issue of the work permit by the employment agency .This means that it is possible to take up gainful employment without being restricted to certain occupational activities or certain companies.

Citizens of a member state of the EEA and Switzerland do not need a work permit because of their right to freedom of movement when taking up gainful employment.

Self-employed / freelance employment is not subject to the work permit law, but it must have been permitted by the immigration authorities before starting. If necessary, special professional regulations must also be observed.

d) Termination of the marriage

If a conjugal union that has only existed for a short time in Germany is dissolved, a residence permit that was only issued because of the marriage can no longer be extended or subsequently limited in time.

The foreign spouses of German nationals acquire their own right to remain in Germany, regardless of marriage, if the basis of their lawful residence is the conjugal cohabitation

  • has existed in Germany for at least two years (even if the residence permit has only been extended for a limited period) or
  • has existed in Germany (without a minimum period) and the foreign spouse cannot be expected to return to his home country due to the existence of particular hardship - this is particularly the case if the return obligation threatens to significantly impair his interests worthy of protection, or if that Adhering to the marital partnership is unreasonable because of the impairment of his interests worthy of protection (the interests worthy of protection also include the well-being of the child living in a family relationship with the spouse) - or
  • has existed in Germany (without a minimum period) and the German spouse has died.

If these requirements are not met, but the spouses have a joint minor child with German nationality, in the event of a divorce the foreign parent will generally be granted a right to stay if he exercises personal custody.

III. Citizenship Law

The question of what effects the marriage has on the nationality of the spouse depends on both German law and the law of the foreign spouse.

1. Citizenship of the German spouse

Marriage of a German with a foreigner does not in principle lead to the loss of German citizenship. However, due to the domestic law of the foreign spouse, German spouses may automatically get married (i.e. without an application) acquire the citizenship of the other partners. Then there is multiple citizenship, as German citizenship continues.

Anyone who has acquired another citizenship either through naturalization or through a registration made on their own application (e.g. on the occasion of a marriage abroad) regularly loses German citizenship. However, this consequence does not occur if the retention of German citizenship has been approved in advance by the German citizenship authority.

2. Nationality of the foreign spouse

Anyone who marries a German does not acquire German citizenship through marriage alone. However, the requirements for naturalization on application are easier for these people.

It is necessary to have unlimited legal capacity, to own an apartment or accommodation at the place of his place of residence and to be able to support himself and his relatives there (dependability). A classification into the German living conditions must also have taken place. In principle, proof of a legal residence of three years in Germany must be provided. The marital partnership with the German spouse must have existed for two years at the time of naturalization. The naturalization applicants must be able to express themselves in German without significant problems in everyday life, acknowledge the free democratic basic order and submit a declaration of loyalty.

It is also important that the way of life is based on the generally recognized rules of living together. No grounds for deportation in §§ 46 nos. 1-4 and 47, paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Aliens Act (AuslG) must have arisen. A reason for deportation according to § 46 No. 2 AuslG is, for example, any not only isolated or minor violation of legal provisions or judicial or official decisions. Section 47 AuslG concerns cases of serious and moderate crime. Entries deleted or to be deleted in the Federal Central Register no longer stand in the way of naturalization.

Finally, the naturalization of the foreign spouse requires that he or she has lost his previous citizenship or has given up after receiving the guarantee of naturalization. If it is not possible for someone to be released from their previous citizenship under reasonable conditions, they can nonetheless be naturalized under certain circumstances. As an exception, there is then multiple nationality. Simplified conditions apply to the co-naturalization of minor children of the foreign spouse.

Foreigners who have been in Germany for more than eight years have a personal right to simplified naturalization in accordance with the law, regardless of whether they are living in a family relationship with Germans. A fee of € 255 is charged for naturalization, and € 51 for a child who is also naturalized.

Further information on the naturalization procedure and the admission of multiple citizenship can be obtained from the citizenship authorities.

3. Nationality of the children

A child acquires German citizenship by birth if one of the parents has German citizenship. Whether the other, foreign parent's citizenship is also acquired depends on his / her home law. Special rules only apply to the acquisition of German citizenship by illegitimate children of a German father and a foreign mother.

IV. Registered civil partnerships

Same-sex couples can register as life partners in Germany. This possibility is not only available for German but also for bi-national and foreign couples, provided that at least one of the partners has the habitual residence in Germany. For the admissibility of the entry, it is unimportant whether a comparable regulation also exists in the country of origin of a partner. Otherwise, the same general requirements apply as for marriage.

The procedure for registering civil partnerships is currently regulated differently in Germany depending on the federal state. The family courts decide on the annulment of the registered civil partnership.

With regard to maintenance, the common name and the right of inheritance, the registration of a civil partnership creates largely the same rights and obligations as a marriage. The foreign partners of a registered civil partnership have the same status as spouses in terms of residence law - with the exception of the possible right of residence in the event of the termination of a marital partnership in special cases of hardship - and in terms of work permit law. In addition, the registered foreign partners of German citizens have the right to be naturalized under the same conditions as spouses of Germans.

It should be noted that the legal effects of a registered civil partnership are only recognized in very few countries.

V. Special problems

When conducting bi-national marriages, unforeseen difficulties can arise for various legal reasons, for example if the foreign husband has to do his military service in his home country or the German spouse endangers the perception of his social rights due to a longer stay in the home country of the other spouse. The peculiarities of some states with regard to inheritance law and property may also have to be taken into account. The same goes for tax law.

In cases where there is a threat of child abduction in the course of separation conflicts or even the kidnapping of the child abroad, the youth welfare office or a family counseling center should be contacted as early as possible.

Numerous social work institutions offer professional advice on questions and problems that arise when managing bi-national and bi-cultural communities.

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This article was published by the Berlin Senate Commissioner for Integration and Migration.

By Just Landed

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