Sweden slams EU divorce proposal

Sweden has criticised EU plans to harmonise divorce rules, arguing that it could lead to family law from countries such as Iran being applied in Europe.

Under the European commission proposal, a person must be ‘linked’ to the country in which he or she is seeking a divorce.

The objective is to close off the possibility of one member of the couple getting an easy divorce decision in a more flexible EU country.

But Sweden has pointed out that the proposal does not just apply if the country an individual is linked to is in the European Union.

In a report on the proposal, Sweden’s Ministry of Justice gives the example of a Swedish woman married to an Iranian man and who has moved to Iran.

“After a time she wants to end the marriage and move back to Sweden. According to current laws, she would be able to get a divorce under Swedish law. The proposal means that Iranian law will instead be applied by the Swedish court,” wrote the ministry.

The matter has not yet been decided and justice minister Beatrice Ask is yet to comment. However, the ministry’s position is made clear in the report:

“Sweden does not want to introduce rules which mean that the possibility of a divorce in a Swedish court is restricted for certain groups. As the proposal now stands, that could be the case for Swedish citizens residing outside Sweden.”

The minstry added that it welcomed the part of the proposal which increased the chances for a couple linked to a certain member state to have the case tested there.

However, that is being opposed by southern European Catholic countries, which fear that their more restrictive divorce laws could be undermined – by the likes of Sweden.