FLINT logo
Families Link International
Tel:0781 886 1724
home | issues | policies | family groups | courts | court reporters | research | law | contacts | donations | Useful Quotes |

Family Groups - women - fear for women's divorce rights

Fears over wives' divorce rights

Almost a third of British marriages break up Barristers fear an attempt to harmonise European divorce laws could upset the property rights of British wives on divorce. They fear EU proposals expected next year could turn the clock back for women's rights by 30 years. This is because rules on the division of property in most EU member states can be less favourable to wives. In contrast, a series of recent landmark judgements has increased the rights of wives in the UK.
Pro-wife The European Commission is expected to publish a green paper on matrimonial property rights next year. In the UK, women have won significant rights to more equal divorce settlements in recent decades. Under the current EU constitution, the UK currently has the right to opt out of proposals such as these. But there is a concern at the Family Law Bar Association that the UK could easily lose out in any proposals, because its system is so different from most other European countries.

Actual harmonisation is some way off

Charlotte Bradley, SFLA
Since the early 1970s women have had a right to make a claim on property, even if they have not had any formal legal title on the home during the marriage.
And, more recently, a number of landmark judgements have led to greater recognition of a wife's contribution to her husband's business and working life in financial settlements.
Southern Europe
In contrast, there are no facilities to vary ownership of property on divorce in many other European countries. For example, courts tend to split property based on "who owns what", rather than what is fair and who needs greater protection.
In the UK, the system is based on broad concepts of "need" and "fairness" rather than who is named on the property deeds.
The Solicitors' Family Law Association said women should not be concerned in the short-term.
Charlotte Bradley, Chair, SFLA International Committee, told BBC News Online: "The European Commission wants to see greater moves towards harmonisation of European family law systems but actual harmonisation is some way off.
"This would be an incredibly complex task given the huge variation in domestic laws throughout the EU. We will be keeping a close eye on developments."

The contents on these pages are provided as information only. No responsibility or liability is accepted by or on behalf of FLINT for any errors, omissions, or misleading statements on these pages, or any site to which these pages connect, whether provided by FLINT or by any organisation, company or individual. No mention of any organisation, company or individual, whether on these pages or on other sites to which these pages are linked, shall imply any approval or warranty as to the standing and capability of any such organisations, companies or individuals on the part of FLINT. All rights reserved.