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EU member states are lining up to attack a European Commission proposal to establish common rules for cross-border divorces which could – in an extreme scenario – see Iranian divorce rules applied in European courts in future.

The proposal – called Rome III and presented last July – sets out which national legislation should apply in the case of a couple of two nationalities or a couple living in their non-native country, such as an Irish and Finnish pair of EU civil servants living in Brussels.

The commission argues it will give clarity and prevent disputes related to «shopping» for jurisdictions, so that if the couple in the example divorced but could not agree whether to do it under Irish, Finnish or Belgian law, Rome III would impose the law of the country where they live or have the strongest ties to.

In cases involving non-EU citizens or non-EU states, Rome III would also favour a legislature to which both spouses have a strong connection, with a Swedish justice ministry document plotting a potential scenario in which European courts have to deal with a dispute under Iranian law.

The Swedish view of Rome III imagines a Swedish woman who marries an Iranian man in Sweden and emigrates to Iran but after several years decides to leave both her spouse and his country and go home. «The proposal means that Iranian divorce law would be applied by the Swedish court,» the justice ministry study states.

Member states attack divorce law scheme