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GreekReporter.comEuropeMy Big Fat European Divorce

My Big Fat European Divorce

By Anna Papadimitriou

EU aims at simplifying the divorce law for the so-called mixed marriages. The relative plan gives the couple the right to choose in which country and according to which national law they want to take divorce.
Every year 140 thousand mixed marriages are dissolved in EU countries. The couples are of different nationality; that is why often arises the problem of the suitable law according to which they should take the divorce. In Sweden, for example, the legislation concerned is liberal. In Malta, there isn’t any divorce legislation. But even in the case of a couple of the same nationality living in another country many legal differences, proven to be pernicious sometimes arise, as the German Member of the European Union Evelyn Gebhardt explains. “There was a case with a Polish married to a compatriot of his. He was living and working in Sweden where he submitted petition for divorce, without even notifying his wife. He got the divorce and left his wife dumbfounded with his children in Poland’’, says the Social Democrat Member of the European Union.

Whoever affords it can choose the country that is in his interest for the divorce. Till today, the competent court to judge every divorce case depends on who will submit petition for divorce. This has to change, according to ten Member States of EU aiming at adopting common laws for the divorce jurisdiction. The European Commissioner for Justice, Viviane Reding supports this initiative and underlines: “We have to protect the weaker of the two partners from potential drawbacks. Do you know what is happening today? The potent partner that affords lawyers and movements hurries to submit petition for divorce in the country and court that is on his interest”. Mrs. Reding emphasizes that it is not about the unification of divorce law. National law will still be valid. But according to the proposal, the couples will have the choice. In case of disagreement, there will be a mechanism to determine the jurisdiction. Germany is in favour of this initiative.

The case involves particularly Berlin, taking into account that one out of three marriages in EU takes place in Germany. The German Minister of Justice, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger considers urgent the reform of the relevant rules. “For this reason we support the amendment of the current rules. In our country the number of the mixed marriages keeps growing. However, many Member States showed clearly at the Meeting of the Ministers of Justice that they still have reservations”. That is the reason why ten countries decided on proceeding by themselves. Germany joined also the group. But, there will be efforts in order that other countries accede too. As for Greece, it is part of the initiative from the very beginning.

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