13th Apr 2024

EU divorce ruling puts pressure on non-nationals

  • The ECJ ruled that foreign spouses can lose the residency rights, under certain conditions, when they divorce their EU national counterparts (Photo: Alex Proimos)

An EU court ruling could see EU nationals exert pressure on non-EU national spouses in divorce proceedings by threatening to get them expelled.

Judges in Luxembourg at the European Court of Justice on Thursday (16 July) ruled that a national of a third country who is married to an EU citizen, may in some cases, lose their right of residence.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Member states issued around 2.36 million first residence permits to third country nationals in 2013.

Of those, around 673,000 were issued for family-related issues, according to the EU's statistical office, Eurostat.

EU rules note that whenever an EU citizen leaves a host member state, his or her family members who are not EU nationals lose their residency rights.

In case of divorce, the family member who is not a EU citizen may retain their right of residence but only if the marriage has lasted for more than three years.

“They have to have been married for at least three years and one of those years has to have been in the host member state”, said a contact at the Luxembourg-based court.

But a case in Ireland saw authorities trying to strip the residency of an Indian national whose Latvian wife left him after more than four years of marriage in Ireland.

Kuldip Singh arrived in Ireland in February 2002 on a student visa from India.

He then married a Latvian in November 2005. His wife left him in February 2010 and started divorce proceedings in Latvia in September that year.

The Irish authorities argued, following a 2004 EU directive on the rights of citizens, that Singh’s right to residency ceased to be valid the moment his wife ceased to exercise her right to reside in Ireland.

The High Court of Ireland asked the Luxembourg court whether Singh’s right of residency could be retained when the divorce took place after his wife had left the country.

However, the judges found Singh’s right to residency could be stripped because his Latvian wife started divorce proceedings after she left Ireland.

“There is big concern that it could lead to putting people in very difficult situations vis-a-vis their spouse or soon to be ex-spouse, which gives a certain amount of power to their ex-spouse”, said the EU court contact.

Singh, despite the court ruling, found another solution.

Irish authorities, even though they could have expelled him, issued him a temporary permission to let him reside and work in Ireland.

EU Parliament set to sue EU Commission over Hungary funds

The European Parliament will likely take the European Commission to court for unblocking more than €10bn in funds for Hungary last December. A final nod of approval is still needed by European Parliament president, Roberta Metsola.

EU Commission clears Poland's access to up to €137bn EU funds

The European Commission has legally paved the way for Poland to access up to €137bn EU funds, following Donald Tusk's government's efforts to strengthen the independence of their judiciary and restore the rule of law in the country.


Potential legal avenues to prosecute Navalny's killers

The UN could launch an independent international investigation into Navalny's killing, akin to investigation I conducted on Jamal Khashoggi's assassination, or on Navalny's Novichok poisoning, in my role as special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, writes the secretary-general of Amnesty International.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us