Making divorce easier for couples of mixed nationality in Europe is being proposed under a treaty provision that has never been used before.
This is called reinforced cooperation. It allows a number of states to agree without requiring all 27 members of the European Union to go along.
The proposal by the European Commission is to let couples choose under which country’s laws they wish to divorce. Brussels says 140,000 binational divorces take place per year in the EU — almost a fifth of the total — working this out to one every four minutes.
Where the divorcing parties do not agree on which national law to use, the proposal sets out rules on which law will apply to the division of property and child custody. It seeks to prevent a spouse from simply picking a country whose system will best serve his or her interests and not the other’s.
Lawyer Régine Hazee told euronews that harmonising the rules on which law is applied will be possible under the proposal. It should also settle questions of jurisdiction far more easily in the EU, because it would provide a common basis on which rulings are made, applicable when asking for recognition in another European country.
When proposed in 2006, not all the member states approved. Under reinforced cooperation, Austria, Bulgaria, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovenia and Spain now want to move forward with it.