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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

07 SEP 2007

The Green Paper on Matrimonial Property Regimes: reflections from England and Wales

Elizabeth Cooke, Professor of Law, University of Reading. In July 2007 the European Commission published a Green Paper on matrimonial property regimes (COM (2006) 400: Green Paper on conflict of laws in matters concerning matrimonial property regimes, including the question of jurisdiction and mutual recognition). The Green Paper is one of a number of instruments aiming to make free movement easier for 'international couples', ie couples who do not share a nationality. The idea is to enable them to predict even to decide which courts they will have to deal with if they divorce, and which law that court or courts shall apply. The aim of this article is to explain why these proposals, so straightforward for the French and for other continental jurisdictions, are so difficult for lawyers in the UK. They are difficult to understand because they depend upon a concept the matrimonial property regime which we do not have. And accordingly it is very difficult to imagine how they might affect the courts in England, Wales and Scotland if they were implemented as planned.

Imagining a couple - one of whom is French and the other English - who married in France some years ago and are now divorcing, in this article Elizabeth Cooke takes the reader through the legal questions raised by the divorce, including whether the French matrimonial regime would be recognized were the couple to divorce in England, and considering the overriding questions of jurisdiction, the application of Brussels II Revised and the proposed new legislation. For the full article, see September [2007] International Family Law.

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