The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently ruled on the automatic recognition of extrajudicial divorce. As a result, a divorce certificate drawn up before a civil registry in any EU state now has the same status as a court ruling. In practical terms, the sentence means that no additional procedures are required when a couple wishes to register a divorce in more than one EU country.
New ruling from the ECJ
In mid-November, the European Court of Justice ruled that an extrajudicial divorce agreed upon in any EU state equals a “judicial decision”. Under the terms of the C-646/20 of 15 November 2022, an extrajudicial divorce has automatic recognition throughout the EU.
The case behind the new ruling
The ECJ made the decision based on a recent case between two divorcees, one with dual German and Italian nationality and the other with Italian. The couple married in Germany and later, started extrajudicial divorce proceedings under Italian law.
A civil registry in Italy issued the extrajudicial divorce certificate. However, when the couple requested the certificate registration in Germany, a discrepancy in automatic recognition arose. There was also the question of whether further procedures were required in Germany.
The ECJ’s criteria
Judges at the ECJ considered the following:
- The need for uniform application of EU laws so that they apply through the EU without the requirement of express reference to individual state legal systems.
- Court decisions under the proviso of the Brussels II bis Regulations in divorce. These regulations state that they cover decisions on divorce taken in and out of court, provided that the law in the individual member state allows for extrajudicial decisions in divorce.
- Previous ECJ jurisprudence only included judicial divorce decisions without taking into account mutually agreed divorce arrangements that did not take place in a court.
In the particular case in question, the ECJ decided that the divorce certificate issued in a civil registry in Italy meets all legal criteria. In addition, it has all the characteristics of a court decision.
As a result, it should be automatically recognised in a German civil registry, and there is no need for any further procedures. This ECJ decision now applies to an extrajudicial divorce certificate issued in any EU country.
Get an expert opinion
Costaluz Lawyers has a team of experts specialising in family law, including divorce. Get in touch with them now for help and advice on any aspects of divorce in Spain.