European flag outside the Commission (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Notaries of Europe with the support of the European Commission have launched a very helpful website for separating international/European couples to help them gain access to comprehensive and reliable information on the complex area of law relating to their separation in 21 different languages.
This is a very useful tool to help people to make use of their rights as European Citizens. The website clarifies the different applicable laws on matrimonial property regimes and property consequences of registered partnerships affecting the separating couple in each European Country. Please see the press release on the Notaries for Europe website here for more information.
If you are contemplating separation or Divorce and either or both of you are European Citizens, this website will help you by answering the following questions for the 27 EU Countries:
• 1 Which law applies?
• 2 Is there a statutory matrimonial property regime and if so, what does it provide?
• 3 How can the spouses arrange their property regime?
• 4 Can or must the matrimonial property regime be registered?
• 5 What are the consequences of Divorce/separation?
• 6 What are the consequences of death?
• 7 Does your national law provide a special matrimonial property regime for multi-national couples?
• 8 What does the law provide for the property of registered and non-registered partners?
• 9 Which is the competent authority to turn to in cases of disputes and other legal issues?
If you are considering separation or Divorce, please in the first instance, give consideration to the out of Court options to resolving any disagreements that you may have either family mediation or in more complex cases, consideration should be given to the collaborative approach, which allows legal advice during meetings.
- Do as much of your own research on the law that affects your rights and responsibilities upon separation/divorce – with the World Wide Web at most people’s fingers tips – this should be relatively easy!
- Where access to the internet is limited or not available – you can get a lot free information from Law Centres, Citizens’ Advice Centres, or from other similar not for profit organisations in your locality, make sure you are clued up!!
- Typically, for married couples/civil partners, you will need to know how to dissolve your marriage/civil partnership and the main factors that the Court will take into account when considering the terms of a financial settlement under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
- For unmarried couples the law is more complex and will be governed by trust law principles and the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustee Act.
- When looking at children’s arrangements you will need to be familiar with Children Act 1989 and the factors that the Court will take into account when considering what arrangements will be in the best interests of your child. You can find useful guides on the cafcass website here.
- Know that all solicitors/legal advisors work from the same hymn sheet and are governed by same law, and so in the usual run of cases where there are simply not enough capital and/or income resources to sustain the same level of living standards that you had when you were a couple, there will be little scope for creative legal arguments as ‘needs will trump all’ in every such case.
- Take stock of your personal circumstances – create your own schedule of assets/liabilities/incomes/budgets to compare your financial positions and make sure this is undertaken on an open and transparent basis with both of you having had the benefit of either considering supporting documents so that there is no doubt about the information on the schedule or you may waive the right to exchange financial information if you both have had full first-hand knowledge/access to the information and there is no doubt or concern about the same.
- Make sure you look after your health and emotional /psychological well-being. Going through a separation/Divorce will probably be one of your most difficult life challenges. Some separating couples have described it as ‘a living bereavement’ and have stated that it was harder to cope with than an actual bereavement of a close family member/friend. Take all the help and support that you can. Not only from family members and friends but most importantly, from other professionals who are qualified and trained to help you at this time of emotional crisis. For example, your GP maybe able to prescribe short-term medication to help with any feelings of low-esteem and he/she may refer you to a specialist Counsellor/Therapist to give you more support. Visit Relate website for more information.
Visit the legal Information Hub on my website to get started and please give serious consideration to family mediation in the even that you cannot reach your own direct agreements. This will serve you, your ex-partner and most importantly, your children well. It is the least self-destructive way of resolving family disputes and reaching resolutions, allowing you the freedom to move on to a brighter, happier and stress free future.
In a recent publication on the FMA website Lord Wilson shares his vision on the future of family mediation. He states,
‘When we face serious family problems, we still usually say to ourselves “I must find a solicitor”. But in many ways (though not all) cases, we would do better to say “We must find a mediator’.
This vision resonates with my personal perspective on family breakdown and reaffirms the harsh reality of the difficult choices that people have to make when they face life-changing circumstances.
The complete article can be viewed here.