France, Germany, or Italy? European Union offers new property division rules

The rise in the number of international marriages – meaning marriages between couples from different countries – is not only on the rise here in the United States, but throughout all of Europe as well. To illustrate, there are currently over 15 million international couples throughout the European Union and, in 2007 alone, 13 percent of all marriages in the European Union had an international component. Interestingly, this dramatic rise in the number of international marriages on the European continent has created certain legal challenges for those couples seeking to secure a divorce.

Specifically, the lack of uniformity regarding property division laws is resulting in prolonged and costly legal battles for many international couples. In fact, current figures from the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, estimate that legal expenses associated with property division matters are now costing divorcing international couples roughly $1.53 billion a year.

Given these rather steep costs, the European Commission has recently proposed new rules that would dictate which country’s property division laws apply in the event an international couple seeks to dissolve their marriage.

It is important to note that the proposed rules – which often take years to pass – are not designed to replace the unique property division laws of the member nations of the European Union. Rather, they are merely designed to establish which laws govern in the event of a divorce.

As currently designed, the proposed rules would allow a couple to reach a mutual agreement as to where they would like their property division matters handled. However, if such an agreement can’t be reached, the proposed rules would assign priority to a certain country based on a number of factors, including the location of the marriage, the location where the couple resided after the divorce and the country in which the couple had the most ties.

Proponents argue that the proposed rules would save international couples money (between $2,800 to $4,200), introduce much needed legal clarity and prevent the wealthier spouse from filing for divorce in the country whose property division laws are the most beneficial to them.

“As more and more citizens fall in love and then marry or create partnerships across borders, we need clear rules to decide how joint property is divided in case of death or divorce,” said Viviane Reding, the European Union’s justice commissioner.

Stay tuned for more from our Ft. Worth family law blog …

To learn more about dissolution of marriage or life after divorce, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:

Your country or mine? EU proposes rules on divvying up property of international marriages (Google News)