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EU justice ministers propose European divorce regulation

EU justice ministers have paved the way for European divorce regulations aimed at simplifying the legal process of divorce for binational couples. If adopted, the new rules would take effect in 2012.

A severed cup and plate

Now it might be easier for binational couples to split

As a general rule, getting divorced is more complicated than getting married. This is especially true if husband and wife come from different countries and live in Europe. Cases are frequently blocked as couples and judges wrangle over which national law to use: the husband's, the wife's, the country where the marriage was celebrated or their last country of residence.

But EU justice ministers have now moved to streamline the process, adopting in Brussels on Friday, December 3, a European divorce law proposal.

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser- Schnarrenberger

Germany's justice minister thinks simpifying divorce would be good for her country

The ministers have agreed to allow couples to decide themselves where the divorce will take place. If this is not feasible, the divorce will take place in the country in which the couple shared a household.

German Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger said that this was "of particular interest for Germany given the amount of binational couples living in the country."

There are over two million binational couples in Germany, which account for over 13 percent of the country's marriages.

Not all of Europe included

Not all European Union states agreed to the new regulation, however. At the moment, only 14 of the bloc's 27 justice ministers support the proposal.

Swedish Justice Minister Beatrice Ask, for example, voiced concerns on Friday that the new rules would put Swedish citizens at a disadvantage.

The proposal is set to be discussed next month by the European Parliament, which is widely expected to endorse the new regulation. If passed, it will take effect by the end of 2012.

Author: Gabriel Borrud (AP, dpa)
Editor: Toma Tasovac

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