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Life, Open Frontiers, Divorce

  • December 22nd, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

family-group-eu.jpgThe EU has quietly announced completion of a law on an aspect of day-by-day living across borders – a solution for couples looking to divorce their international marriages.

Divorce law like a large bundle of responsibilities, notably the criminal law, has remained overall with national governments; despite the power of the “fourth tier” of government, the EU, extending into many key fields of the economy and social relations.

Free movement across borders to live, work, do business and invest has inevitably brought increases in transnational marriage, and so pressure for a solution to complicated contests between different countries’ laws.

Now citizens of 15 listed countries out of the 27 will escape some of the complications by being able to nominate which legal jurisdiction they want to come under, in the event that they are obtaining a divorce.

It started with failure to achieve agreement on a single divorce law in 2006.

The Lisbon Treaty coming into force at the beginning of last year came to the rescue, as it incorporated another agreement, the Amsterdam Treaty, which permitted laws to be made for groups of member countries, under set conditions, without all 27 taking part.

By that time ten governments had signed up for the move on divorce, a quota for setting up a separate group under the EU law:  Austria, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia and Spain.

By this week, Belgium, Germany, Latvia, Malta and Portugal had also joined.

Approval by a meeting of Justice Ministers from the participating countries completed the process of agreement, and the new law was legislated this week (20.12.10).

Divorce stands to remain difficult, as well as painful for citizens across the participating countries, but it should become much less complex and easy to understand, and manage… through being able to nominate which country’s system – his or hers — will be used in any particular case.

See EUAustralia Online, “Economy: More stress and strain”, 6.2.09.


European Union, Brussels, Europa, “EU adopts new rules on divorce and legal separation”, 20.12.10., (22.12.10).

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