Marriage and registered life partnership

Who is allowed to marry? What documents are required? What happens to registered life partnerships of same-sex couples since marriage is now open to them?

Following the enactment of Germany’s same-sex marriage law on 1 October 2017, not just men and women, but all couples can marry irrespective of their gender. Until then, couples with same sex entries in Germany, such as homosexual couples, were only allowed registered life partnerships. However, persons with open gender entries were not allowed to marry or enter a civil union.

New civil partnerships are no longer possible, now that same-sex marriage is legal. Thus, couples engaged to conclude a civil partnership can no longer do so.

As a same-sex couple, how can we get married?

Since same-sex marriage became legal, marriage requirements are practically the same for all couples irrespective of their gender.

Only two people can marry each other. Both persons must be of full age, unmarried or be living in a civil partnership; and should not be close relatives. The marriage is concluded at the ‘Standesamt (registry office) and these documents need to be submitted: ID, proof of residence and birth certificates.

Do we have to convert our life partnership into a marriage?

Couples already in a civil union can either convert their partnership into a marriage or retain their partnership status. However, a civil partnership is not equal to a marriage. The former is not protected by Basic Law and couples cannot adopt children at the same time; they can only do so in a successive adoption process, where one parent adopts the child first and then followed by the second parent.

How do we convert our registered life partnership into a marriage?

To do so, the couple must appear before the ‘Standesamt’ (registry office) just like in the case of marriage. In addition to the usual documents, the couple must present the civil partnership certificate. If they have a joint registered partnership name, this name must be retained. Rights and duties deriving from a marriage, such as pension rights apply with retrospective effect – from the beginning of the civil partnership and, including the period of conversion of the civil partnership into a marriage.

As a non-German citizen, can I also marry (a same-sex partner)?

Yes! If your country of origin does not allow same-sex marriage, you do not need to present a certificate of no objection to the marriage.