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Members of the EU agree on new regulations on matrimonial property for international couples

Published: 4th July 2016

18 European Union member states have reached an agreement on two new regulations, aimed at making the rules clearer on cross-border property disputes between married or registered couples of different EU nationalities, or for parties that own property in another EU member state.

The participating states are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. The United Kingdom is not participating, however this decision was made before the UK voted to leave the European Union last month.

The rules state that other EU member states are allowed to join any time after the new regulations have been passed, with Estonia already declaring its intention to join after the new regulations have come into force.

The new regulations will help to determine which laws will be applicable and which EU court has the jurisdiction in cross-border cases involving matrimonial property. They will also set clear rules in cases involving death or divorce and will bring greater legal clarity to conflicting cases where proceedings are across multiple EU member states.

The regulations do not interfere with the institutions of marriage or registered partnerships defined by national law in individual member states and include a safeguard to protect national legal systems in each EU member state. For example, for those member states that do not recognise registered partnerships, the regulations do not assume jurisdiction or enforce those states to provide provisions for such partnerships.

The European Parliament will give its opinion on the new regulation documents throughout the course of the next few months and, consequently, the regulations will be adopted formally by the 18 EU member states participating in these new regulations.

One of the opening statements in the official documentation reads: 'The Union has set itself the objective of maintaining and developing an area of freedom, security and justice in which the free movement of persons is ensured. For the gradual establishment of such an area, the Union is to adopt measures relating to judicial cooperation in civil matters having cross-border implications, particularly when necessary for the proper functioning of the internal market.'

'In accordance with point (c) of Article 81 (2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), such measures may include measures aimed at ensuring the compatibility of the rules applicable in the Member States concerning conflict of laws and jurisdiction.'

The full documentation in regards to married couples can be found here and the full documentation for registered partnerships can be found here.

If you are considering separation or divorce and find yourself in the middle of a dispute over matrimonial property then K J Smith Solicitors can help. Every case is unique, but K J Smith Solicitors have the experience and expertise to handle such financial matters are will always strive for the best possible outcome for you and your family. For more information or to arrange a free 45 minute consultation, please contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 020 7070 0330 (London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke) or 01483 370100 (Guildford).

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