Professional Translation Services and Cross-Border Divorces: EU and the US

Professional translation and courtroom interpretation services are important when dealing with an EU jurisdiction. Europe recently passed legislation (Brussels II) that may affect divorce cases with the US. In a case involving the legal doctrine of forum non conveniens (JKN v. JCN (2010) EWHC 843), it was held that a EU member state can decide not to exercise jurisdiction in a divorce “if it seems better overall for the case to be in another state”. This is similar to the situation in the US, where a state court can also opt to not decide a divorce case. The goal of such legislation is to try to keep a couple to getting a divorce in only one country.

The question in the EU case, which was heard by an English Court, was the role Brussels II plays. Specifically, whether Brussels II requires England to exercise its jurisdiction or if it can still exercise its historical discretion. The court ruled that “the EU does not legislate for nonmember countries”. This part of the ruling is important to cases involving a party from the US. In other words, a EU member-state will still have the right to refuse jurisdiction and thus send a decision to the US. Of course, the issue of foreign language translation of all marriage and divorce decrees becomes mandatory.

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