The Cross-Border Divorces

English

I. Introduction

By easing the freedom of movement, the European Union has literally brought people together: approximately 300,000 cross-border marriages occur each year. These days, there are currently around 16 million international couples in the EU. More than 37% of these marriages fail and must undergo a cross-border divorce process. In fact, millions of foreign EU nationals live in another member state so the EU will see more international marriages — and more international divorces — in years to come.

Facing divorce is one of the most difficult and stressful periods in a person’s life. Moreover, if international elements are involved, such situations could be even tougher.

At Georgiades & Associates, our legal professionals have the skills and knowledge necessary to help our clients reach satisfactory cross-border divorce solutions and agreements. We welcome clients of different nationalities from around the world. Our Greek, English, French, Russian and German speaking lawyers can assist clients with complex cross-border matters. The wealth of expertise of our team allows us to undertake divorce matters as fast as possible, minimising the impact of the stress involved in the process.

II. Divorce Proceedings

Our law firm offers a complex range of family law services and provides legal assistance and guidance through all stages of the procedure and can handle any legal formalities and complications which may arise.

Often, when such international families break up, family members end up living in different countries. This leads to a situation that is fraught with difficulties from a family law point of view. Such difficulties include, for example, the question of which courts have jurisdiction to hear a divorce application, or which law is applicable to such issues.

We represent our clients in a wide range of sensitive law issues such as:

  • Divorce and separation
  • Matters involving children (including custody arrangements)
  • Financial settlements
  • Division and distribution of matrimonial assets
  • Domestic violence
  • Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements
  • Litigation
  • Succession issues

We recommend that our clients seek legal advice as early as possible. In cross-border disputes with international elements, especially in European Union family law cases, there can be a “race” between spousesto issue proceedings in a particular country as this will become the jurisdiction in which the divorce will ultimately take place.

Therefore, delaying the commencement of resolving your case issues can have significant financial implications upon your proceedings, as well as affecting how long the process will take.

III. Applicable European Union law

Council Regulation (EC) No 2201/2003 on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility (“Brussels IIbis”) simplifies the formalities for the recognition and enforcement of judgments in the abovmentioned matters in all European Union member states, except for Denmark.

This regulation sets out the rules of jurisdiction that determine the member state in which proceedings on divorce, legal separation or annulment can be initiated. These rules are only about international jurisdiction: the specific court or authority within a member state with competence in a given case is determined by the national rules of procedure.

In particular, Chapter I, Article I of the Regulation provides that:

1. This Regulation shall apply, whatever the nature of the court or tribunal, in civil matters relating to:

(a) divorce, legal separation or marriage annulment;

(b) the attribution, exercise, delegation, restriction or termination of parental responsibility.

On the basis of the above, any party interested in starting specific proceedings in Greece, Cyprus or in any other relevant EU member state should act in conformity with this Regulation and also lex generalis Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters - (“Brussels I”).

Council Regulation (EC) No 1259/2010 implementing enhanced cooperation in the area of the law applicable to divorce and legal separation provides us with a clear, comprehensive legal framework in the area of the law applicable to divorce and legal separation in the participating member states.

This is the first time in the history of the EU that countries have used the “enhanced cooperation” mechanism. By doing so, it has given 15 EU countries a green light to push forward the rules allowing international couples to select which country´s laws would apply to their divorce. The new rules, which still must be approved, will allow couples to avoid emotionally and financially costly proceedings.

According to the fact that on 3 March 2010, Greece withdrew its request to participate in this Regulation, the applicable articles of Greek Civil Procedure, Private International Law and other related national laws will be used. Regulation No 1259/2010 shall apply to Greece from 29 July 2015. On this basis, other member states, which are not participating on this Regulation, will proceed as Greece is doing now. In addition, we can also handle cross-border matrimonial disputes in other countries which are not EU member states.

The new rules cannot influence marriage or civil partnershipbreakdown, but they may finally make it easier for people to end their cross-border disputes.

IV. Services provided

In view of the fact that every marriage dispute is unique, clients need solutions that are tailored to their specific needs and circumstances. Our lawyers create smart and efficient solutions for our clients and advise them in their particular matrimonial matters.

Our clients expect and deserve the best. We are committed to ensuring that our clients are completely satisfied with our legal services. Our aim is to also protect spouses and their children from complicated, drawn-out and painful procedures. We assist our clients in conformity with the following quotation by Vivien Redding, EU Justice Commissioner:

“I do not want people in the European Union to be left to manage complicated international divorces alone. I want them to have clear rules so that they always know where they stand.“

We understand that going through a divorce can be an upsetting experience, but we believe that skillful negotiation will help us to achieve a solution more cost-effectively and with better results. As a step forward in any case, we are offering a consultation to help our clients better understand their options and also services, which are both efficient and of the highest quality.

If you would like to come to see us to talk about your situation and find out how we are willing to help you, please do not hesitate to contact us.

V. Disclaimer

The information contained herein is provided for general guidance and is intended to offer the user general information of interest. The application and impact of the laws in Greece can vary widely based on the specific facts involved. This information is being provided on the basis that the authors and publishers are not herein engaged in rendering professional advice or services. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professionals. While we have made every effort to ensure that the information contained herein is correct, we do not accept liability for any errors or omissions.

Recommended By

Members of