Transnational Families in Crisis: An Analysis of the Domestic Violence Rule in E.U. Free Movement Law

This Essay analyzes a concrete rule of European law that has emerged to address the problem of domestic violence within certain transnational families. The domestic violence rule is found in Article 13 of the European Community Free Movement Directive (the Directive), legislation that governs the rights of E.U. citizens and their family members to enter and reside in other E.U. Member States.6 The rule affects the rights of a discrete group: non-E.U. (“third-country national”) family members of migrant E.U. citizens, that is, E.U. citizens who have moved to another E.U. Member State (the “host State”) to exercise residence rights there. In order to make moving within the European Union easier and more attractive to E.U. citizens, the Directive, permits third-country nationals to reside in the host State with their migrant E.U. national family members. For example, this legislation permits a Spanish national to live and work in France, and authorizes his Bolivian wife to live in France with him. As will be discussed further, infra, the domestic violence rule of the Directive permits the third-country national to retain that right of residence in the host State even in the event of a divorce, if she has experienced domestic violence.