New EU rules to protect children better in cross-border custody cases start applying today
Today, the new EU rules on cooperation between judicial authorities on cross-border disputes, such as custody, parental rights and child abduction (“Brussels IIb Regulation”) come into force. The Regulation updates the existing rules on jurisdiction, recognition and enforcement of decisions in matrimonial and parental responsibility matters to better protect the needs of the child. Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said: “The new rules will simplify certain procedures and improve collaboration between the central authorities of EU countries and between the courts. In such difficult cases, it will help parents and children to safeguard their rights and find solutions in less costly and faster proceedings.” The new Regulation will simplify circulation of decisions, authentic instruments and certain agreements within the EU through rules on recognition and enforcement in other EU countries. The new rules will oblige Member States to ensure that a child can express his or her opinion in all proceedings relating to that child, such as custody and access rights, or when abducted by a parent. The new Regulation will also reduce the length and costs of the judicial procedures, for instance, by introducing clear deadlines for the return of an abducted child and by eliminating the need for an intermediary procedure (‘exequatur’) for decisions on parental responsibility, which will now be directly enforceable.