EU announces new marital property regulation

family life

The Council of the European Union has announced a new multi-country regulation on the distribution of marital assets following divorce.

If passed, the new regulation would implement “enhanced cooperation on jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of matrimonial property regimes”.

To date, 18 member states have expressed a willingness to implement the new rules, which will avoid the current ‘race for jurisdiction’ which applies in divorce disputes involving more than one member state. Instead, participating spouses will enjoy rights equivalent to those available in other states. The regulation declares:

“…in order to allow the spouses to enjoy in another Member State the rights which have been created or transferred to them as a result of the matrimonial property regime, this Regulation should provide for the adaptation of an unknown right … to the closest equivalent right under the law of that other Member State. In the context of such an adaptation, account should be taken of the aims and the interests pursued by the specific right … and the effects attached to it. For the purposes of determining the closest equivalent national right, the authorities or competent persons of the State whose law is applied to the matrimonial property regime may be contacted for further information on the nature and the effects of the right.”

The participating states to date are: Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italia, and Sweden.

Estonia on the Baltic Sea will also sign the regulation when it comes into force at some point over the next few weeks.

A spokesman for the European Council explained:

“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.”

Read the regulation here.

Photo of the European Commission headquarters by TPCOM via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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