International private family law & citizenship conference report by Lucie

Conference report of the 7th of December 2018 hosted in Brussels by the ADDE (Association pour le droit des Étrangers) International private family law & citizenship 

I. Speakers 

II. Original goal 

III. Highlights

IV. Lessons I learned 

V. Note and Expectations 

I. Speakers 

Mr Thomas Evrard, Lawyer (International Private law+ Marriage & Partnership) 

Mrs Caroline Apers, Lawyer (child recognition) 

Mr O. Ralet, Sociologue (interculturel communication)

Mrs Sylvia. Pfeiff Barrister, Professor in Law at ULB (divorce)

Mrs B. Renault, Lawyer (Citizenship)

II. Original goal

The original goal of the conference was to refresh knowledges concerning Aliens laws. Every year, the ADDE hosts such pay training conference. This kind of training is required for barristers, lawyers, and social workers specialized in EU immigration law. But also people who intensively works with migrants in order to refresh and develop highly successful, winning immigration strategies and therefore help migrants achieving their immigration goals in compliance with EU immigration policy and regulations. It is agreed by OBFG (Ordre des Barreaux Francophones & Germanophones). 

The OBFG brings together all the bars of the French-speaking (11) and German-speaking (1) regions of the country. Its role is to represent and defend the interests of the legal profession, but also to defend the interests of litigants. As a Solicitor specialized in international family law, this training is a must for me being my favorite subject. I also act on behalf of Lead Africa to provide the right information to the diaspora living in Europe and to African legal migrants in Africa.

 III. Highlights 

The morning session concerning international family law was shared between Mr Thomas Evrard and Mrs Caroline Apers.

They reported on International Private Law, Marriage, Partnership and child recognition in Belgium by an alien parent. They reported also how to manage the recognitions established in the countries of origin if abroad contested.

In the opening address, Mr EVRARD defined the international private law which he thought is not well-known. He emphasized on the 3 fundamentals questions that International Private Law deal with. According to him, the aim of international private law is to assure free movement of foreigners, to have the same solutions in case of dispute when dealing with different laws, and to avoid migrants to find themselves in different situations.

Note that unlike the international public law it does not deal with relationship between states. International Private Law consists of conflicts of laws. 

So how to proceed? Mr Evrard advices lawyers to carefully "wear multicultural glasses" before starting to solve the international private law case. This means 

 look first at International convention first if existing.

 second, look in the CODIP (Code de Droit International Privé) for Belgium for instance, a legal instrument which binds many countries who recognize the code. For example, if we leave in Belgium, Belgium will be competent to solve the problem. 

 finally, collaborate with foreign parties which means to apply in Belgium the law of origins 

So INTERNATIONAL PRIVATE LAW is the part of the national law of a country that establishes rules for dealing with cases involving a FOREIGN ELEMENT

For instance, if a contract is made in Kinshasa but needs to be fulfilled in Stuttgart, it will be necessary to decide which law governs the validity of the contract; Congolese or German law. This is known as a question of CHOICE OF LAW. The parties' choice of law in a contract is respected; rules are set down in the convention stating which laws apply if the parties have not made a choice. 

Sometimes the courts must also decide whether or not they have the jurisdiction to hear the case and whether or not to recognize a foreign judgement such as a divorce obtained abroad by Africans while leaving in EU. 

To lighten, Mr EVRARD gives the example of a Belgian travelling in Brazil who falls in love with a Ghanaian. They married in Brazil. 

In International Private Law, such situation involves 3 characteristics: 

1. Are Brazilian authorities competent to celebrate the wedding whereas both the parties don't live in Brazil. If so 

2. Which law will be applied to the wedding: Belgian? (Law of the bride), Ghanaian? (Law of the bridegroom) or Brazilian? (law of country of the trip)

3. Whereas Brazil celebrates the wedding, how could Belgium recognize the marriage celebrated in Brazil when they will return to live in Belgium? (law of residence). 

Private Law deals with such aspects of relationships between individuals that are no concern to the state. It includes family law, law of tort, law of property and of trust. 

In Belgium we have a convention, the CODIP. It binds the parties who signed it. After signature, the country is required to create enforcement mechanisms to legally enact the commitments. 

In the first keynotes concerning marriage, cohabitation, child and divorce, Mr EVRARD spoke about the international competence in case of international marriage or international cohabitation.

In the second keynotes, Mrs Caroline Apers talked about all we have to know about child recognition, paternity challenges and drew our attention to fraudulent recognitions

She explained the link between the right to family reunification through filiation.

Concerning the CITIZENSHIP, we are aware that family ties are a prerequisite for many questions of right to get a based or a permanent visa. Indeed the creation of the filial link is an issue in the right to stay in EU countries. 

Concerning CONFLICT OF NATIONALITY, which nationality shall choose the judge to apply to the child whose father has more than one nationality. 

The afternoon session was shared between Mr O. Ralet, Mrs S. Pfeiff, and Mr B. Renault. 

Mr O. Ralet from a sociological point of view brilliantly explained the impact of cultural differences, given that Brussels is considered the 3rd most multicultural city in the world. 

Mrs S. Pfeiff, talked about how to apply a FOREIGN DIVORCE LAW. How to make recognized in Belgium a divorce pronounced abroad, which documents to produce. There is a reinforced cooperation mechanism laid down in Regulations Rome III in European countries. Concerning the others countries, she emphasized on how to accept or reject in Belgian law the repudiation according to Moroccan law repudiation. 

The closing keynote was introduced by Mrs B. Renault, who talked about what's new in the Citizenship requirements. 

She spoke about the rules of getting Belgian nationality and emphasized on what's new concerning the period preceeding the declaration of nationality. One can assert his right to stay from the beginning to the end regardless of the type of residence permit that the person has had. So the whole period is considered legal whereas before certain periods when we received the orange card was not counted. Therefore these periods were canceled by the administration because they were considered illegal. For example, for the asylum procedure, before the new law, these periods were not countable but thanks to the new modification of the law, for recognized refugees, we take into account all the time of the procedure. This allows the Belgian legislator to comply with the law of the European Union and Geneva conventions.

She emphasized on the integration. How to get the evidence of social integration through work or pre-vocational training in EU. The recognition in Belgium law of birth certificate of consulates is no longer recognized except for some rare country. So it is required to have one only from the country of origin and it must be recent. 

IV. Lessons learned 

This conference gives me new tools to become more protective with aliens specially concerning FAMILY specially whether polygamous marriage can be recognized or not, whether a custom marriage can be recognized or not, the required procedure, the rights for children from polygamous marriage, the annulment in case of false marriage, the right of same sex marriage couples.

I learned that under certain conditions a undocumented aliens can get married, can recognize a child. 

V. Note and Expectations 

International private law is complex, this is why you need an immigration Solicitor who can guide and advise you through the process. 

From tourism visa, short visa to entrepreneur visas and citizenship, International private law immigration lawyer helps clients achieving their immigration goals in compliance with EU immigration policy and regulations. 

Whether you wish to work, to get married, to get a same sex cohabitation, to recognize a child or invest in the EU, make it your permanent home or seek asylum in the country, as an International private law Solicitor I can successfully represent you in a broad spectrum of immigration matters. 

I hope this reading interested you to better understand how to be well integrated. 

For more on this,  

Email us to: 

Phone +32 477 21 91 57. With your name, email, phone and a brief description of your legal issue

Lucie Mbalanga Mangulia

Lawyer in International and European law

Specialized in International Family Law and Immigration Law

Team lawyer of Lead Africa International, Germany.

 From Belgium.