New divorce rules for parts of Europe

Just before Christmas the European Union confirmed that from mid 2012 that couples living in 14 Countries across Europe will be able to choose which countries divorce rules should apply to their separation.

The 14 member states that have signed up to the agreement will mean that the Austrian and Frenchwoman who marry in Belgium but live in Germany can choose where they seek to divorce. In the event that they cannot decide then the Courts will have a common formula for deciding which country’s laws apply.

This goes toward helping those international couples who can encounter arbitrary legal problems that cause massive problems and can lead to financial and emotional disaster as previously blogged in the case of Sara Pell.

At present of the 27 European States, 20 countriesĀ determine which country’s laws apply based upon nationality and long-term residence. However 7 still apply their own domestic law.

The 14 countries that will apply these new rules are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain.

We may see in time more countries taking up these rules in an effort to prevent the divorce tourist from seeking the jurisdiction most likely to achieve the best financial outcome for themselves. I would question whether the fact that human nature will always dictate that the client who can afford to manage their affairs in such a way as to choose a jurisdiction will always seek the most advantageous country for them to issue.

But the rules will help simplify matters for us lawyers who often have to advise upon such issues. If you would like further advice upon this subject or your own circumstance then please contact me by email

One comment

  1. I think that’s quite beneficial. In my case, it wouldn’t matter tho. If no one can decide where the proceedings should be, then it pretty much goes to last residence. Honesty, loyalty and God prevails all.

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