Asking for divorce via WhatsApp isn't legal, German court rules

Asking for divorce via WhatsApp isn't legal, German court rules

In the midst of an acrimonious break-up, you might never want to speak to your spouse face-to-face ever again, but don’t be tempted to resort to communicating solely through technology: according to a recent court ruling, applying for a divorce in Germany via WhatsApp is not legally sound. 

Foreign divorce petitions cannot be sent via WhatsApp, German court rules

Anyone who sends their divorce petition from abroad via the WhatsApp chat service is deemed to have not properly served it in Germany, according to a recent ruling by the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt am Main

The case revolved around a Canadian man and a German woman. The couple had their marriage in Canada but subsequently separated and the wife returned to Germany. The man applied for a divorce in Canada. The court approved the application and a divorce petition was sent to the woman via WhatsApp. The woman agreed, and the divorce was pronounced final.

Divorce not considered legally binding in Germany

In Germany, however, it was pronounced not legally binding. Since the marriage was dissolved abroad, the divorce needed to be recognised in Germany - and the German court ruled that the woman had not been properly notified of the petition, having only been informed via a notification on her mobile phone

In the ruling, the judge declared that the recognition of foreign divorces requires the application to be sent “properly” and on time - and in this case the applicant clearly missed the mark. 



Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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