Věra Jourová, the EU justice commissioner, has highlighted a coming reform of EU family law that will simplify procedures for cross-border couples. Pictured: Věra Jourová speaks at a press conference in Brussels, 16 July 2018. Photo credit: European Commission/Jennifer Jacquemart
Breaking up will be less hard to do for international couples in the EU starting next year.
Luxembourg and 17 other member states have signed on to a scheme to simplify the division of assets and enforcement of judgements in other EU countries when international couples split up.
The procedures apply to marriages and civil partnerships involving spouses with different nationalities, and those who live or got hitched in another EU member state.
“New rules applying as from 29 January 2019, aim to clarify the property rights for international married couples or registered partnerships. These clear rules on divorce or separation bring an end to parallel and possibly conflicting laws, for example on property or bank accounts, in different EU countries.”
The regulations “allow international couples to choose the law that applies to their property in case of death or divorce”, the commission stated. If they don’t jointly agree to a jurisdiction, there are “coherent rules for identifying which country’s court is responsible and which law applies”. The regulations are also meant to provide “easier recognition of judgments, decisions and titles everywhere in the EU”.
“In the new rules, the applicable law prioritises the national law of where the spouses live, and secondly their common nationality,” according to Euractiv.
The rules do not change any national laws of member states.
In addition to Luxembourg, the 17 other EU countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
Jourová told Euractiv that she was “hopeful that additional member states will join” the scheme.
The EU had existing protocols on which country’s court should hear the divorce and legal separation cases of international couples, but only 16 member states signed up to those standards.