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Judgment in Case C-289/21 - IB – only one habitual residence is possible.

Posted on 31 August 2022

The parties, a French national and an Irish national were married in Ireland. Although the parties had lived in Ireland since 1999, the husband had, for several years, returned every week to France, where his professional interests lay. The Court of Appeal in France (where he instigated a divorce) considered that he had two residences, one for the weeks he was in Paris and the other with his wife and children in Ireland.

The Court of Appeal, Paris referred the matter to the EU Court of Justice to determine which courts had jurisdiction under Art 3 of Brussels IIa, in particular, whether the husband had his habitual residence in both Member States.

The EU Court held that even if a spouse divides his or her time between two Member States, he or she may have only one habitual residence within the meaning of Article 3.

Melissa Lesson says: Although the English Courts are no longer bound by decisions of the EU Court of Justice, many families continue to live between two countries, one of which may be an EU Member state (in this case France). While the family may spend significant time in each country, this decision makes clear that, where there is a dispute with another EU country, a spouse cannot try to claim habitual residence in both (and so elect the jurisdiction which they believe will result in a more favourable outcome).

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