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For wedding appointments as of 29 January 2019: The EU regulations governing matrimonial property regimes now apply

As of 29 January 2019, the so-called EU matrimonial property regime regulations apply to new international marriages and registered civil partnerships. These regulations govern which legal system applies in matters of matrimonial property regime.

Area of application: International marriages

In the case of international marriages, there is always the question as to which legal system the marriage is subject. An international relationship exists if the married couple have different nationalities, they live in different countries and/or they own assets abroad. The regulations (EU) 2016/1103 and 2016/1104 now govern uniformly in 18 EU states how to determine in these cases which legal system is applicable to the matrimonial property regime. The determination of the applicable legal system in other marriage-related questions (e.g. relating to maintenance or pension rights adjustments), is not affected by these regulations.

Change in the determination of the applicable legal system, not the rules governing matrimonial property regimes as such

The national law governing matrimonial property regimes and therefore in Germany (e.g. the matrimonial property regime of the community of accrued gains), is not changed by the EU regulations governing matrimonial property regimes of course. It merely deals with the preliminary question (although this is associated with far-reaching consequences) as to whether German law applies at all to the matrimonial property regime or whether the law of another country applies. The joint matrimonial property regime for marriages concluded as of 29 January 2019 is now primarily subject to the law of the country in which the married couple had their first common habitual residence after they got married. In cases with an international relationship, the marriage partners should therefore find out whether the applicable law corresponds with their interests. If not, they can make individual provision in a marriage contract and select a legal system. Even people who are already married today can take advantage of the provisions of the regulation and select a legal system.

Simplification of court proceedings

The regulations also govern which court is responsible in relation to the rules governing matrimonial property regimes in order to avoid simultaneous court cases in different EU member states. Besides this, the intention is to simplify the recognition and execution of decisions reached in cross-border cases.

Important preliminary information about marriage law in the EU is incidentally available at

Dr. Herbert Buschkühle is an attorney-at-law/tax advisor/notary public/ specialist attorney for tax law/ specialist attorney for inheritance law at PKF WMS Dr. Buschkühle PartG mbB Rechtsanwälte Steuerberater, a co-operation partner of PKF WMS Bruns-Coppenrath & Partner mbB Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft Steuerberater Rechtsanwälte (member company of the PKF network).

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