European Commission proposes new property regime for international couples

On 2nd of March 2016, the European Commission presented a new proposal regarding the division of joint property of international married couples and registered partnerships. The proposed regime aims to address the current issues related to dividing couples’ joint assets in case of divorce, separation, or death of a partner. Thus, the proposed rules will ease the complicated process of property division for about 16 million international couples that reside in the EU.

Due to lack of unanimity among the 28 EU Member States, only 17 EU Member States are going to comply with the new property regime.The initiative aims to:

  1. Clarify which jurisdiction will be competent in case of division of international couples’ joint assets;
  2. Define the law applicable in case the division of property of international couplesis governed by conflicting laws and procedures of numerous countries; and
  3. Facilitate the rules governing the cross-border enforcement and recognition of judgments related to division of property of international couples.

If the proposed rules are approved by the European Parliament and European Council, the new property code will be adopted in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden. The other EU Member States will continue applying their national laws. However, the remaining 11 countries are given the right to adopt the new rules in the future.

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