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Marriages with an international dimension: 3 tips

Michèle van Velzen

30 October 2019 - 2 minutes reading time

I recently attended a seminar of Dutch and Belgian notaries on the European regulations pertaining to the property law for spouses and registered partners. In this blog post I will discuss 3 tips with reference to this seminar.

This seminar was part of a series of about 20 transnational seminars under the auspices of the Council of the Notariats in Europe and was held in The Hague. Subsequent seminars took place in Paris, Vienna and Lisbon.

Previously I wrote an overview article about the European regulations mentioned above.

The following regulations are at stake:

  1. the new European regulation on matrimonial property law
  2. the new European regulation on property law for registered partners

These regulations apply to spouses or registered partners who:

  1. got married on 29 January 2019 or after that date; or
  2. decided which law is applicable to their matrimonial or partnership property regime on or after 29 January 2019.

The second option entails that the scope of the regulations can be very large from the onset, because they apply to all married and registered partners who own assets in one of the eighteen adhering Member States.

The regulations have virtually the same content. For the sake of convenience I shall refer to them as “the regulation”.

The international dimension comes into play sooner than one might think. For instance, merely having a second home abroad can make the regulation relevant!

Tip 1

Even if you made a choice of applicable law before 29 January 2019 it can be judicious to confirm this choice and to declare the regulation applicable. I am using the term ‘can’ on purpose, as it might be more favourable to declare that the regulation is not applicable. Either way, it is advisable to find out where you stand.

Tip 2

In my overview article I wrote that when purchasing immoveable property in the Netherlands it can be useful to ask the Dutch notary to write in the Dutch marriage property register that Dutch law does not govern the matrimonial property regime. At present it is not yet possible by virtue of the Dutch Civil Code to also lay down the matrimonial property regime which applies to the spouses in the Dutch marriage property register.

However, during the seminar it was mentioned that this does happen in practice, by – in brief – stating that the matrimonial property regime is not governed by Dutch law and by subsequently stating which law is applicable.

Tip 3

Some states have more than one legal system, such as the United States of America.

Suppose your marriage or registered partnership has an international dimension because you are in some way connected to the state of New York. Would that mean that on the basis of the regulation you could choose the law of the state of New York as applicable law?

No, laying this down in such specific terms will not be possible as the regulation states that the internal rules of – in this case – the United States of America determine of which federal state the legal rules apply.

Perhaps these tips can be useful for your situation.

We will find out how the regulation will materialise further in practice.

I will keep you informed of significant developments.

Michèle van Velzen, kandidaat-notaris

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