Fourteen member nations of the European Union have agreed to adopt special rules governing divorces of international couples. The new rules will go into effect in a year and a half.
International couples are couples where each partner is from, or lives in, a different European Union nation.
About thirteen percent of the European Union’s one hundred twenty-two million marriages involve international couples.
Under these rules, the couple can agree upon which nation’s rules will control their divorce, provided that the couple has a strong connection to the chosen country.
If the couple can’t reach agreement, then the new rules determine which nation’s law will apply to an international couple’s divorce.
The claimed purpose of the new rules is to squelch the filing spouse shopping for the most advantageous country to file in and then racing the other spouse to file first.
The new procedures have some glaring omissions though.
No country will be required to end a marriage that its own law does not recognize as valid.
Further, the choice of law really only applies to grounds for divorce and/or separation, as the case may be.
The new rules do not apply to legal capacity, annulment, property division, parental responsibility, child support or spousal support.
It’s not clear that the new rules will really thwart shopping for the nation with the most favorable divorce laws, but they may be a first step in that direction.