German Publication: On the way to a European Law Applicable to Divorce


A dissertation has been published which is of particular interest with regard to the recently published proposal of the European Commission for a Council Regulation amending Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 as regards jurisdiction and introducing rules concerning applicable law in matrimonial matters: Sinja Rüberg, Auf dem Weg zu einem europäischen Scheidungskollisionsrecht

Here is a short summary:

With the ever-increasing migration of European Union citizens, more and more people are entering into cross-boarder matrimony; a freedom guaranteed by Art. 6 GG. This brings with it a rise in the number of international family relations and, in parallel, divorce procedures. At the moment in the area of divorce law, the courts in Europe use various choice of law rules and substantive laws for one and the same circumstance. This legal position enables the divorce-seeking applicant to choose the best terms for his purpose. This “forum shopping” conflict can, under exemption of a presently available possibility for harmonisation of the substantive divorce law besides already existing unified rules on jurisdiction and a European accreditation system for family law, only be solved by a unified choice of law rules. The necessity and the possibility of reaching this goal become clear considering the historical development in the area of family law on a European level as well as the deficits in the Brussels II Regulation.
In order to point out how diverse the consequences of a divorce case with international bearing can be, the reader is first provided with a legislative-comparative overview of the various larger Central and Western European EU member state’s substantive and international divorce laws regulations. Furthermore, it is demonstrated that the problem has been recognised and taken seriously by the European legislator and that “Rome III” is not just a long-fallen star on the European agenda. Subsequent to this, the disputed question concerning the scope of competence of the European legislator in passing a European Law Applicable to Divorce is discussed.
Under consideration of the aforementioned European aspects, this work draws up a concept for a unified choice of law rules, an assignment already commenced by the European Commission under Regulation “Rome III”. The goal must be to localise the legal and the spouse relationships as well as possible and to determine the state to which the closest ties are exhibited. This work should contribute to the necessary pan-European discussion on the causes and arguments for the various national civil law regulations. The new law applicable to divorce should meet the needs of the involved parties exactly. All conceivable tie-regulations are correlated in great detail and examined with regard to their suitability for “Rome III”. An orientation on both the tie-system of the Brussels II Regulations as well as the autonomous international civil regulations regarding the divorce laws of the member states occurs at this juncture. The rationale on which the ties are based is researched in order to asses their transferability to a regulations system within a European law applicable to divorce. Within these bounds, the principal question of whether either the common nationality of the spouses or their habitual residence should have priority in European law applicable to divorce is addressed in detail. The author deals in depth with the adoption of an evasion as well as an absorption clause and discusses the pros and cons of a party autonomy authorisation in law applicable to divorce.
The results of these considerations consolidate into a European legal instrument on the law applicable to divorce – “Rome III”, such that the author would recommend this work to the European legislator.