Laurent LATAPIE Avocat - divorce franco américain NY 2022
Laurent LATAPIE Avocat – divorce franco américain NY 2022


How is the divorce of a binational couple, in this case Franco-Hungarian, organized? which judge to refer to and in which country? What legislation should be applied? And above all, when the divorce judgment is rendered in France or Hungary, how can we ensure its perfect execution in the other country?


Article :


The international divorce between France and Hungary presents complex challenges due to legislative and cultural differences.


With the increase in binational marriages, these questions become particularly relevant.


Legal differences and cultural disparities make handling these divorces tricky, requiring a thorough understanding of the laws of both countries.


This highlights the importance of legal and cultural cooperation to resolve disputes fairly and efficiently.


Thus, growing binational marriages accentuate the need for harmonization of legal practices to facilitate international divorce procedures.


The legal framework of international divorce, which legislation to apply?


In France, divorce is governed by the Civil Code.


The French courts may have jurisdiction if one of the spouses is French or resides in France, in accordance with the Brussels II bis Regulation.


Numerous illustrative examples are available where the Court has confirmed the competence of the French courts to judge the divorce of a binational couple.


This underlines the application of the rules of jurisdiction in international divorce matters and the importance of the French residence or nationality of one of the spouses.


This demonstrates the capacity of French courts to manage divorce cases involving binational couples, reinforcing the scope of French legislation in this area.


It is also appropriate to cite the case law on the subject: Cass 2nd civ, July 8, 2015, No. 14-15.618:


The court confirmed the territorial incompetence of the Mulhouse family affairs judge to rule on the divorce of Mr. of the divorce request, despite his arguments to the contrary.


Or even, Cass 2nd civ, May 25, 2016, n°15-21.407:


The court rejected the appeal of Mr Y… who challenged the exequatur in France of a decision rendered by the County Court of Bath (United Kingdom). The Court confirmed that the foreign decision complied with the requirements of public order and that Mr. Y…’s rights of defense had been respected.


What about Hungarian legislation?


In Hungary, divorce is mainly governed by the Hungarian Civil Code.


The Hungarian courts have jurisdiction if one of the spouses is Hungarian or resides in Hungary.

European legislation also plays a crucial role in these procedures.


The Brussels II bis Regulation applies, harmonizing the rules of jurisdiction in matters of divorce within the European Union.


This helps determine the appropriate jurisdiction in international divorce cases, thereby ensuring some uniformity in the handling of cases.


Thus, even if the Hungarian Civil Code constitutes the basis of the procedures, the European legal framework significantly influences the jurisdiction of the Hungarian courts.


What about determining the applicable law? The Rome III Regulation


Above all, it is appropriate to target the 1970 Hague Convention, this convention facilitates the recognition of divorces between contracting States, providing essential legal certainty.


It is particularly useful for Franco-Hungarian divorces, ensuring that decisions taken in one of the two countries are recognized and enforced in the other.



This reduces administrative complications and uncertainties for binational couples, thus simplifying post-divorce procedures. By harmonizing the procedures and criteria for recognizing divorces, this convention contributes to more efficient and equitable management of international divorce cases, strengthening legal cooperation between France and Hungary.


But the legal framework is now clearly established by the Rome III Regulation


The Rome III Regulation allows spouses to choose the law applicable to their divorce. In the absence of a choice, the applicable law is determined according to criteria such as habitual residence.


For example, a Franco-Hungarian couple residing in France may have their divorce governed by French law.


This flexibility helps resolve conflicts of laws in international divorces, providing spouses with some control over the proceedings.


Thus, the Rome III Regulation facilitates a more harmonious management of cross-border divorces, taking into account the preferences of the parties and the circumstances of their life together, reinforcing legal certainty and the predictability of decisions.


Filing the divorce petition


In France, the divorce application can be filed before the judicial court, while in Hungary, the procedure generally begins before the district court.


Choosing the jurisdiction can be a major challenge, especially if the spouses cannot reach an agreement.


Legislative and procedural differences between the two countries often complicate the situation.

For example, jurisdictional criteria and documentary requirements may vary, making coordination between French and Hungarian jurisdictions complex.


Additionally, issues of residence, nationality and shared assets may also influence the choice of competent jurisdiction, requiring in-depth legal analysis and international cooperation to effectively resolve disputes.


Recognition in France and in Europe of the judgment rendered in Hungary.

The mutual recognition of divorce judgments between France and Hungary is facilitated by European regulations, in particular the Brussels II bis Regulation.


However, challenges persist, particularly when it comes to enforcing financial decisions or child custody.


Legislative and cultural differences can complicate the implementation of judgments, creating obstacles for the parties involved.


For example, decisions concerning the distribution of property, alimony or visitation rights may require adaptations to comply sometimes with French law, sometimes with Hungarian law.


In all cases, European provisions allow a decision rendered in one of the countries, France or Hungary, to be enforceable in the other country in the event of difficulty.


The objective is to ensure efficient and fair execution of divorce decisions.


Certain judgments of the Court of Cassation illustrate the competence of French courts in matters of international divorce.


Several decisions highlight the application of the Rome III Regulation, which clarifies the criteria for choosing the applicable law.


These judgments show how the Court of Cassation interprets and applies this regulation, allowing spouses to choose the law governing their divorce.


In the absence of a choice, the decisions detail criteria such as habitual residence to determine the applicable law.


These case laws provide legal certainty and predictability in international divorce proceedings, helping to harmonize legal practices between France and other EU member states, such as Hungary.


Thus, for our Franco-Hungarian couple, the Rome III regulation allows spouses to choose the law applicable to their divorce, for example French or Hungarian law, according to their preferences.


The Kúria, the supreme court of the Hungarian judicial order, equivalent to our Court of Cassation, has rendered several decisions on conflicts of law in matters of divorce, inevitably influenced by European provisions.


These judgments offer concrete examples of how Hungarian courts deal with international divorce cases, notably by applying the Rome III Regulation, clarifying the criteria for determining the applicable law.


Hungarian courts evaluate factors such as habitual residence and nationality of the spouses to resolve these conflicts of law.


These case laws demonstrate the integration of European regulations into the Hungarian legal system, ensuring consistency in the treatment of international divorces and strengthening legal certainty for the couples concerned.


The role of the marriage contract for a Franco-Hungarian couple


A well-drafted prenup can prevent many conflicts in the event of divorce.


It is recommended to include specific clauses on applicable law and competent jurisdiction.


By clarifying these aspects from the start, spouses can avoid costly and complex litigation later.

This contract can clearly define the rules regarding property distribution, alimony and child custody, based on the chosen legislation.


Thus, a detailed prenuptial agreement provides legal certainty and predictability, making international divorce proceedings easier to manage and reducing uncertainty for both parties involved.


Referring to the most favorable jurisdiction may be an issue in determining which jurisdiction would be most advantageous for this or that spouse.


The lawyer inevitably helps navigate the complexities of foreign laws with security and strategic visibility in order to maximize the benefits for his client.


At the same time, mediation offers an effective alternative for resolving conflicts amicably.


Indeed, in mediation, spouses can discuss and reach agreements on sensitive issues such as child custody and the distribution of property. This makes it possible to preserve more harmonious relationships and to achieve tailor-made solutions, adapted to the specific needs of both parties involved, for which the lawyer also plays a decisive role.


The international Franco-Hungarian divorce presents significant legal and practical challenges that my firm is able to manage


The intervention of a law firm competent in international divorce is essential for the smooth running of the procedure for Franco-Hungarian couples wishing to divorce.

Article written by Maître Laurent LATAPIE,

Lawyer in Fréjus, lawyer in Saint-Raphaël, Doctor of Law,

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