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EU moves to clarify divorce laws

New draft European legislation is aiming to make is easier for spouses who come from different countries to divorce, reports the BBC.

The European Commission is proposing to let couples choose which country’s laws apply to their divorce, to prevent one spouse gaining an unfair advantage through divorce shopping – where one party starts proceedings in the country where they think they are likely to get the best deal.

Ten EU countries - excluding the UK - want the new rules. Euro MPs and EU governments still have to debate them.

The rules can become law under an EU mechanism called "enhanced co-operation". This allows nine or more countries to push ahead with a measure they deem important but that is blocked by a small minority of EU states.

The Commission says a common formula would establish which country's rules would apply to international couples seeking a divorce. It gives the example of a Swedish-Lithuanian couple living in Italy, who could ask an Italian court to apply Swedish or Lithuanian law.

Andrew Woolley, Managing Partner of Woolley & Co, said couples should not worry just yet but should ensure they consult a family law expert as soon as possible in proceedings.

“The law hasn’t been passed yet,” he said. “Whether it is or isn’t, most Brits will still want to be divorced in England or Wales. Believe it or not, it is often quicker and cheaper than many foreign court systems. And - maybe with our help - they can understand what is being said!”.

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