Deal or no deal: The impact of Brexit on divorce & family law

Divorce|Family Law|International|March 12th 2019

Whilst the government continues to argue about the size of the Brexit ‘divorce bill’ the potential impact remains unclear. And with no workable plan to address the significant problems that will arise in the family law legal system, it is a time of uncertainty for all family lawyers and their clients.

Sarah Snow, Partner at our London Victoria office joins us on the blog to look at the potential impact of Brexit and divorce.

MPs are set to vote again tonight on Mrs May’s Brexit deal. Will the three new documents, which form part of the divorce, be enough to push her deal through parliament? With the EU making it clear there will be no more concessions, the stakes have never been higher.

As a family law practitioner, I am concerned about the potential impact on family law and my clients.

Our society today is a global one, with more and more families living internationally with different nationalities, dynamics and structures. This is reflected in the diverse cases we represent at the London Victoria office where we frequently work on matters of European cross-border disputes between parties concerning finances and children.

It is arguable that Britain’s decisions to leave the EU in 2016 was in part, brought about by the EU’s overreaching legislative aims with a global agenda.

However, it is wrong to suggest that no good has come from the UK’s membership within the EU, particularly in relation to family legislation. EU law has proved to provide greater certainty for separating families in the following areas:

  • Recognition of divorce within other EU countries
  • Recognition of children law within other EU countries
  • Expedited child abduction proceedings
  • Recognition and enforcement of maintenance orders within EU countries.

The Law Society guidance published on a no-deal Brexit on family law in October 2018 highlighted that EU treaties will cease to apply with immediate effect in the event of no deal Brexit and co-operation between the UK and EU will end.

The ceasing of EU treaties will directly impact on many families currently relying on EU legislation to enforce orders abroad, recognition of divorce proceedings which may either originate in the UK or another EU country, or at worst the return of abducted children.

No deal will also lead to a reliance on international law, such as The Hague Convention.

When advising my clients, I ask them to consider the impact of Brexit when considering where and when and to issue proceedings, recognition of foreign orders and applications for maintenance enforcement before March 29.

The true extent of Brexit’s impact on family law is not yet known.  Time will tell.

Sarah is a Partner at our London Victoria office. She has a thorough knowledge of all aspects of family law, specialising in financially complex divorce cases, often involving business, trusts and overseas assets and high conflict children’s cases.

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Comment(1)

  1. spinner says:

    After Brexit, there will be no more mass uncontrolled immigration so these problems will settle down as the people in the UK are actually committed and here to stay rather than wafting in and out causing problems.

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