European Nations Move to Stop Divorce Shopping
Couples in 14 different European countries will soon be able to choose the divorce laws that will apply to them under a new system of cooperation introduced last year after justice ministers in Luxembourg reached an agreement to stabilize divorce law across the 27 EU member states. The European parliament has yet to rule on the agreement, but Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain have all signed on already.
It is estimated the change will affect 170,000 European divorces each year by simplifying the divorce process and reducing the complexity and ultimately, the cost of divorce in the nations affected. Proponents of the agreement allege the system will have the effect of reducing the fees divorce attorneys will charge in those countries. Although Sweden has traditionally resisted attempts to synchronize divorce laws, the other EU states recognized the need to prevent the practice of divorce-shopping in Western Europe where spouses sought to get divorced in the locations that gave them the most advantage in their cases.
The EU member states that chose not to sign the agreement still gave their approval for the other states to move forward, although some say the system could end up creating areas of concentrated divorces. Britain chose not to join the system of enhanced cooperation introduced last year under the Lisbon Treaty. The three member states with the largest share of international divorces in 2007 were Germany with 34,000, France had 20,500 and the UK was not far behind with 19,500.