Divorcing Europe: How Brexit may affect Family Law

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Lawyers are not oracles, but the Law Society of England and Wales has undertaken extensive research into the possible impact of our leaving the European Union. We are advised that, generally, under a no-deal Brexit (where are we at with this today, this hour, this minute-?), the following is likely to apply…

• Hague Convention protection will continue between UK and EU/EEA member states as to child abduction cases.

• National law will prevail in the UK and EU law will be repealed in the UK. All related reciprocity will disappear.

• Some bilateral treaties and conventions which pre-dated our EU membership will prevail post-exit, but (!) the national laws of the states in question will need to be looked at closely, preferably with the benefit of advice from lawyers from the respective countries.

• The status of ongoing cases, which straddle any exit date (the 29th March is a distant memory now) remains unknown. Multiple jurisdiction cases and parallel proceedings could easily occur.

Any clearer-? Not really.

What is likely, in relation to matters of recognition, enforcement or other proceedings is that local advice will be required. Practice, procedure, time periods and access to the courts or enforcement authorities can vary significantly from country to country and it will be crucial to ascertain the likely position in the EU member state by obtaining local advice. This local advice may be required as a precondition if an urgent application is needed to the family courts of England and Wales.

What is certain is that if you are contemplating or suspect (as applicable)

• an overseas marriage/civil partnership, separation or divorce and/or
• the overseas re-location of children as a result of a marriage/civil partnership, separation or divorce,

you should contact the Family team of Jackie Gifford (01903 229903) and Jackie Mensah (01903 229914) for solid advice as to the current law and the relevant proactive and preventative steps available to you and your family.

We can’t predict the future, but we can help buffer the possible effects and just make things less complex and stressful for you, regardless of the outcome of Brexit, whatever and however that plays out.