Countries across Europe are working to end the complicated mish-mash of costly and conflicting divorce and inheritance laws affecting cross-border relationships.
The Council of the European Union has announced 18 states are ready to agree a common approach for people caught in a legal nightmare between different legal systems.
New regulations will determine which court has jurisdiction in a case, how the law is applied and how matrimonial property is split.
The EU also hopes that joint approach will stop some spouses opting to pursue a divorce in countries where they believe the outcome is likely to be more in their interest.
The states participating are Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italia, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland and Sweden.
16m couples affected by EU rules
Estonia has signalled joining the collaboration when the regulations take force. Other EU countries can join up whenever they wish. The regulations do not impact on local laws concerning weddings and civil partnerships. The countries adopting the new regulations expect to do so within a few weeks. The European Commission estimates around 16 million married couples are affected by cross-border divorce and inheritance rules. “The rules are designed to give some certainty about how cash, property and assets will be treated during separation and divorce for EU citizens in cross-border relationships,” said a European Council spokesman.
No meddling in marriage
“Not every country is taking part, but we believe that they will all sign up in the fullness of time.
“The regulations will eliminate the obstacles to free movement experienced by couples managing or dividing their property.”
The new regulations are restricted to managing a couple’s assets and do not attempt any definition of marriage or a civil partnership.
Member states also retain the right to make separation and divorce rules for couples – the new regulations only apply to how their assets are split if each one comes from a different EU state.
Similarly, the rules do not apply if one of the couple comes from outside the EU.
Different EU cross-border regulations cover a spouse paying maintenance and the management of a deceased person’s estate. via iexpats.com