European Couples May Get Easier Divorce Rules Under New EU Law

(Bloomberg) -- The EU and the U.K. may still be rowing over their split, but bitter divorce battles over who gets the kids and the coffee table should reach faster resolution for European couples under new divorce and child abduction rules agreed among member states on Friday.

Some 140,000 couples seeking to split from a partner with a different EU nationality every year, triggering a wave of potential legal disputes over which law applies, since they could claim to divorce where they live or where they’re from. The new rules speed up some of the legal proceedings and set standard terms for how a divorce can be rejected, the European Commission said in a statement published on its website.

The rules also give a voice to children, if they can talk, to tell a judge what they want. When a child has been taken to another country by one parent, courts are set clear deadlines to try and reach a decision quickly. Courts can order contact between the child and the "left-behind" parent or set limits on contact if the child is at risk from an abusive parent seeking for the child to be returned to a previous home country.

There are some 1,800 cases of a parent taking a child to another country away from the other parent every year.

Despite the EU’s own lengthy and acrimonious divorce row with the United Kingdom since it voted to leave the bloc in 2016, the U.K. signed up to the new divorce rules. Denmark didn’t. The rules should enter into law in the coming months, the commission said.

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