15th Dec 2019

EU takes a look at international divorces

  • Making divorce less complicated (Photo: European Commission)

Spouses of different nationalities who want to obtain a divorce may soon see one of its more complicated aspects cleared up - namely which national law applies - following a move by the European Commission on Monday (14 March).

The Commission launched a discussion paper - technically known as a Green paper - on the problems encountered by international couples wanting to divorce.

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One problem is that a spouse may be encouraged to file for a divorce in order to ensure that the law of their particular member state is applied.

Or, two people from different member states may both apply for divorce in their own countries leading to a situation of legal uncertainty as it is not clear which law would then be applied.

Thousands of people in the EU divorce each year, and many of them are involved in these "international" marriages.

The Commission's paper is supposed to encourage debate on the issue.

But Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini said it is not Brussels' aim to "harmonise the divorce laws of member states, but to find solutions which facilitate the life of citizens".

A public hearing on international divorces will be organised later this year. All those who responded to the green paper will be invited, said Mr Frattini's spokesperson.

The Commission will use the hearing to see whether it will follow up with a concrete proposal in the area.

This is not the first foray by the EU into the area of family and divorce law.

Two weeks ago it proposed a law on the common judicial area in the field of family law to improve the situation of children after the separation of their parents.

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