The free movement of people is one of the central pillars of the EU. As a result within the EU there are couples whose relationships will be recognised in their country of origin but not in the country where they are currently living. These relationships take many forms, for example, married heterosexual couples, married same sex couples, civil partnerships between same sex couples, civil partnerships between heterosexual couples and cohabiting couples (whether heterosexual or same sex).
Under English Law only heterosexual marriages and same sex civil partnerships give rise to financial claims on separation. However, if another EU state makes a maintenance order in favour of a person that will be enforceable in England even if English law does not recognise the status of that relationship.
Therefore, when advising a separating couple in England, it is always important to consider the nationality / domicile of the couple. For example, if there is an unmarried same sex or heterosexual couple living in England who are both of Irish domicile they would be able to bring a financial claim in Ireland under the EU Maintenance Regulation which would then be enforceable in England. Depending on the couple’s nationality there would be similar possibilities in other EU countries
As maintenance can include payments of capital or property transfers it is important to take expert advice from an international specialist as otherwise you may be told incorrectly that you cannot make financial claims against your ex partner.