Who can get married in Germany?

In Germany, everyone is free to choose whether or not they want to marry, whom they want to marry and when they want to marry. This also applies to homosexual couples.

If you are aged 18 or over, you can get married without parental consent.

A man and a woman are getting married in a town hall.

Other conditions for marrying in Germany

Two men are getting married in a town hall.

A marriage must take place in a registry office. If either of the partners is not German, there will be a consultation at the registry office beforehand, free of charge.

A couple can also get married in a religious ceremony led by a priest or an imam, for example. However, in Germany, such a ceremony does not mean that you are officially married yet.

Exceptions

A marriage is not possible if:

  • You or your partner are already married to another person. In Germany you are only allowed to be married to one person at a time.
  • You or your partner are being forced into marriage.
  • You or your partner only want to get married so that you or your partner can stay in Germany.
  • You and your partner are closely related. Examples of marriage between close relatives are siblings marrying their siblings, parents marrying their children or grandparents marrying their grandchildren.

New rights and responsibilities

By getting married, both marriage partners take on new rights and responsibilities. For example:

  • In a marriage, both partners are obliged to support and care for each other.
  • If your marriage partner dies, you are entitled to receive part of his/her property and/or money. If your partner has died and you have questions, ask a counselling centre for help.
  • In Germany, marriage partners can share a health insurance plan. This is possible if one of the partners does not work or only earns a small wage. If you require more information, ask a counselling centre for help.
  • If your marriage partner lives abroad, he/she is entitled to come to Germany and live with you here. This applies only if you yourself are allowed to live permanently in Germany and have enough money to support your partner. The marriage partner who comes to Germany must show that s/he speaks some German. Your marriage partner will then receive a residence permit for Germany and will also be able to work here in Germany. This also applies to gay and lesbian couples in a registered partnership.  
  • Even after marriage, doctors are not permitted to share personal information about you or your health with your marriage partner against your wishes.

A marriage that has been registered in another country and is valid there is also valid in Germany.

Only the couple decide

Sometimes other people decide whom you should marry. This is not customary in Germany. However, it is not forbidden by law provided both partners want the marriage to go ahead.

A marriage against your will or against the will of your partner is forbidden in Germany. Any attempt to force people into marriage is also forbidden. It is also not permitted to take you and your partner to another country to be forced into marriage there. If you are being forced into marriage or have been forced into marriage, contact a counselling centre.

People who force others into marriage are punished. If you are already living in such a marriage, you and your partner will not be punished and the marriage will remain valid. However, you and/or your partner can end the marriage. If you and/or your partner would like to end the marriage, ask a counselling centre for help.

Living together without being married

A relationship before marriage and affairs with other partners during marriage are not forbidden in Germany and no one is punished by law for this behaviour.

Sometimes, this behaviour is not accepted within families and some family members want to punish young men or women who act in this way with physical violence, or even kill them. If you believe that you are in danger of this, go to a counselling centre or directly to the police.

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