Books Developments in PIL Scholarship

Non-Judicial Divorce in Private International Law

The number of States which, pressed by the need to relieve and speed up the work of the courts, have de-judicialised the dissolution of the marriage bond and assigned the responsibility thereto to various extrajudicial authorities (Civil Registrars, notaries, mayors, etc.), has considerably increased in recent times.

This has been the case in Spain, where, following the entry into force of Law 15/2015 of 2 July 2015 on Voluntary Jurisdiction, Spanish notarial authorities are competent to grant divorces (Articles 81, 82 and 87 of the Civil Code). Examples exist as well in Latin America (Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia and Nicaragua), Europe (Italy, France, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Greece, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Moldova and Romania), Asia and Euro-Asia (Japan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Armenia).

In fact, a thorough examination of comparative law shows that the regulation of non-judicial divorce is very diverse, even in countries belonging to the same geographical area. Not in all cases does an authority intervene, nor, when it does, does it perform identical functions or is vested with the same competences. With this in mind, a monograph by Nuria Marchal Escalona, titled El Divorcio No Judicial en Derecho Internacional Privado (Thomson Reuters Aranzadi, 2022), analyses the private international law-related problems Spanish notaries face when authorizing a public deed of divorce in cross-border cases. It further deals with the difficulties foreign extrajudicial divorces meet to produce effect in Spain. The study of a per se intricate subject matter becomes even more complex due to the number of legal sources in Spanish private international law in the field.

The monograph addresses, in the first place, jurisdiction – international and territorial – to grant a public deed of divorce. At a second stage, it examines the law applicable both to the dissolution of the marriage and to the issues necessarily associated thereto, such  as the use of the family home, financial regime of the marriage, or maintenance. Lastly, it deals with the problems foreign non-judicial divorces run into to be effective in Spain. In particular regarding the latter point, the analysis is highly topical for three reasons: firstly, due to the  judgment in Case C-646/20, where the CJEU ruled that a divorce certificate issued by a civil registry official constitutes (subject to conditions) a “judicial decision”; by way of consequence, under Regulation 2201/2003 such divorces are to be recognized like a judicial decision. Secondly, Article 65 of Regulation 2019/1111 introduces a relevant novelty in the field, since, in contrast to the twofold combination of judicial decision (Art. 21) and public document (Article 46) of the Brussels I bis Regulation, it also allows for the effectiveness of registered private agreements. Finally, Article 96, paragraph 3, of the Spanish Civil Register Act extends the legal regime it itself accords to foreign judgments to decisions delivered by foreign non-judicial authorities in matters which, under to Spanish law, belong to the remit of judges and courts.

The monograph aims at offering a complete vision of the Spanish private international law rules regarding non-judicial divorce in a clear, praxis-oriented way, with an exhaustive analysis of comparative and case law. Above all, it provides the legal professionals essential guidance to overcome the fragmentation of sources in order to ascertain the rules pertinent to each individual case.

Legal Secretary CJEU Full Professor PIL University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) Senior research fellow MPI Luxembourg (on leave) Usual disclaimer applies

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