1 Which law applies?

1.1. Which law is applicable to a couple´s property? Which criteria/rules are used to determine the applicable law? Which international conventions have to be respected with regard to certain countries?

Matrimonial property regimes are subject to the law of the country of which both spouses are nationals. If they are nationals of different countries, the law of the country of their common habitual residence is applied. If spouses do not have the same nationality or do not have a common habitual residence, the law of the country of their last common residence is applicable. If the applicable law cannot be determined according to these rules, Croatian law is applied (Article 36 of the Private International Law Act).

The applicable law for the contractual matrimonial property regimes shall be the law that was applicable to the legal matrimonial property regime at the time when the spouses entered into the agreement.

The Republic of Croatia is not a signatory party to the 1978 Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Matrimonial Property Regimes.

Bilateral conventions on international legal assistance that contain conflict-of-law rules on matrimonial property relations have been concluded with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation and the Slovak Republic (further information available at http://www.mprh.hr/bilateralna-suradnja-01).

1.2. Do the spouses have the option of choosing the applicable law? If so, by which principles is this choice governed (e.g. the laws to be chosen, formal requirements, retro-activity)?

Croatian law itself does not provide for a choice of applicable law, so if both spouses are Croatian nationals such a choice is not admissible. However, if one spouse is a national of another country and if the law originally applicable to the spouses' property relations (the law applicable at the time the spouses entered into the agreement) allows such a choice, the spouses may choose the applicable law (Article 37 of the Private International Law Act), if the effect of its application would not be contrary to the public policy (Constitution) of the Republic of Croatia (Article 4 of the Private International Law Act).