Property regimes for international couples clarified

EU property regimes for international couples
© iStock/KristinaJovanovic

New regulations clarifying existing rules for international married couples and registered partnerships have come into force in 18 Member States.

The regulations, covering the management and distribution of joint property and bank accounts in the event of death or divorce, are projected to provide increased legal clarity for couples from multiple Member States. As the full 28 EU Member States could not reach an agreement on clarifying property regimes for international couples, the rules will apply – at least initially – in the 18 states which approved them: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. These Member States, comprising 70 per cent of the EU, represent the majority of the bloc’s international couples.

First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “The entry into application of these regulations is good news for the growing number of international couples in Europe. This is about giving certainty to thousands of European couples about what happens to their property if they divorce or one of them dies. I am confident that these regulations will help many European couples manage such difficult times.”

The new regulations are set to clarify which national court will preside over the division of property and assets in cases of divorce, separation or death; and which national laws take precedence where multiple Member States could potentially claim jurisdiction. Member States which have not approved the regulations will continue to apply their own national laws to cross-border property cases; although they will retain the option to join the regulations at any time.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourová said: “These new rules will make it easier and cheaper to divide joint assets and provide some relief to people in difficult circumstances. More than 16 million international couples will benefit from clear procedures in case of divorce or death of a partner. They will be able to save around €350 million each year in legal costs. I encourage the remaining Member States to join the enhanced cooperation for the sake of all international couples across the EU.”

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