As individuals are increasingly mobile international couples (couples with same citizenship living abroad, couples of different citizenship living in the country of residence of one of the members, or couple of different citizenship living in a third country) need clear rules with regard to the management and sharing of the couple’s assets and property a result of divorce or death of one of the couple’s members.
Within the EU, recent Council Regulations (EU) 2016/1103 (applying to matrimonial property regimes) and (EU) 2016/1104 (applying to property consequences of registered partnerships) give couples the right to choose in writing which law and jurisdiction will apply to their assets in case of separation, divorce or death and define conflict of law rules in case of absence of choice by the parties.
The Regulations furthermore set out that a decision taken in a member state must be recognized in another member state without special procedures.
For cross border couples outside the EU, the situation is more complex, as not all countries have in place treaties allowing for automatic enforcement of judgements. In most cases, sorting out property issues will require adopting a step by step, jurisdiction by jurisdiction approach to the sorting out of individual assets. This may be expensive and time consuming but ultimately – especially if dealing with substantial assets – more effective. A case by case practical and solution oriented approach, depending on the relevant jurisdictions involved, ability of the parties to find solutions, and type of assets will be required much like when dealing with business assets.
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