New rules applicable to property regimes for international married couples or registered partnerships


By George Kazoleas, Senior Associate Lawyer at Dionysiou & Partners LLC (Cyprus)
The EU Regulations clarifying the rules applicable to property regimes for international married couples or registered partnerships apply from 29 January 2019. Τhese are the Regulations (EU) 2016/1103 of 24 June 2016 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of matrimonial property regimes and (EU) 2016/1104 of 24 June 2016 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of the property consequences of registered partnerships.
The regulations establish clear rules in cases of divorce or death and bring an end to parallel and possibly conflicting proceedings in various Member States, for instance on property or bank accounts. In short, they bring more legal clarity for international couples[1].
As regards the jurisdiction in the event of the death of one of the spouses, Article 4 of Regulation (EU) 2016/1103 provides that where a court of a Member State is seised in matters of the succession of a spouse pursuant to Regulation (EU) No 650/2012, the courts of that State shall have jurisdiction to rule on matters of the matrimonial property regime arising in connection with that succession case.
With regard to the Jurisdiction in cases of divorce, legal separation or marriage annulment, Article 5 of the above Regulation provides that where a court of a Member State is seised to rule on an application for divorce, legal separation or marriage annulment pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003, the courts of that State shall have jurisdiction to rule on matters of the matrimonial property regime arising in connection with that application.
It is noted that the above Regulation should not apply to other preliminary questions such as the existence, validity or recognition of a marriage, which continue to be covered by the national law of the Member States, including their rules of private international law.
Regulation (EU) 2016/1104 was entered into force to provide unmarried couples with legal certainty as to their property and offer them a degree of predictability, through the mutual recognition of decisions given in the Member States in matters of the property consequences of registered partnerships.
Concerning the jurisdiction in the event of the death of one of the partners Article 4 of the above Regulation, provides that where a court of a Member State is seised in matters of the succession of a registered partner under Regulation (EU) No 650/2012, the courts of that State shall have jurisdiction to rule on matters of the property consequences of the registered partnership arising in connection with that succession case.
As regards the jurisdiction in cases of dissolution or annulment, Article 5 par.1 provides that where a court of a Member State is seised to rule on the dissolution or annulment of a registered partnership, the courts of that State shall have jurisdiction to rule on the property consequences of the registered partnership arising in connection with that case of dissolution or annulment, where the partners so agree.
 As it was not possible to reach unanimity among all Member States, the rules will apply in 18 Member States: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
The common rules on jurisdiction, conflict of laws and recognition and enforcement in the participating Member States do not affect the rules of the non-participating Member States. The courts of the non-participating Member States will continue to apply their existing domestic rules to determine the jurisdiction and applicable law and to the recognition and enforcement of decisions in the matter of property regimes of international couples, covering both matrimonial property regimes and the property consequences of registered partnerships.
The new regulations clarify also which national law prevails in case the rules of several countries could potentially apply. In addition, they facilitate the recognition and enforcement of a judgment given in one Member State on property matters in another Member State.
The 18 Member States that joined the enhanced cooperation make up 70% of the EU population and represent the majority of international couples who live in the European Union. The remaining Member States can join both Regulations any time.[2]
It should also be mentioned that in 14 EU countries, it is open to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples: Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Malta, Ireland, Finland, France, Denmark, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Spain, Sweden and Portugal.
21 EU countries allow registered partnerships (also for same-sex couples): Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Read the full text of the Regulations:
Council Regulation (EU) 2016/1103 of 24 June 2016 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of matrimonial property regime
Council Regulation (EU) 2016/1104 of 24 June 2016 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of jurisdiction, applicable law and the recognition and enforcement of decisions in matters of the property consequences of registered partnerships
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 [1] European Commission/press release 29.1.2019
[2] European Commission/press release 29.1.2019


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