BREXIT – what this now means for family law

The Brexit vote has been cast and a decision made. The EU referendum results confirm that Britain will be leaving the EU. In addition to the changes we will face from an economic perspective, significant changes in law also loom ahead. This blog deals solely with family law and the changes this area of law will now face.

Our law is governed by England and Wales as well as the European Regulations. Whilst there has been no change to domestic law i.e. divorces and family law in general, disputes with an international element now face drastic changes. The Regulation which has the biggest impact on family law is the “Brussels II revised” which allows courts in different European countries to deal with family issues provided that their jurisdiction requirement has been met. For example, a German national husband and French national wife living in England could have their divorce proceedings heard in Germany, France or England. Whichever party is the first to have their divorce lodged with the court will secure that jurisdiction.

As a result of Britain leaving the EU following the Brexit vote, it is likely to result in the UK leaving behind the European Regulations it has previously been bound by. This in effect means that we are likely to end up operating in much the same way as other non-EU countries. When deciding which country to issue family proceedings will be dependent upon which jurisdiction is the most convenient to deal with it, rather than a ‘first to issue’ scenario. There is some argument to say that this would provide a ‘fairer’ method in dealing with family issues that have an international element. The most convenient court will be determined by the connections the family have and perhaps where the assets of the marriage are. The Brexit negotiations will make this position clearer for parties after formal notification to leave is presented to the EU.

In terms of children proceedings with an international element, it is anticipated that there will be little change to the law. Living arrangements for children is determined by the court where the children lives under EU Law. However, following the referendum result, issues of where a child should live, nationality, where a child should domicile and the court’s ‘inherent’ jurisdiction will be the determining factor. On issues of international child abduction, there is still the Hague Convention which will remain in place.

Any proceedings with an international element are highly complex and will involve niche expertise in this area of law. Our solicitors at Hunter & Uro will provide you with the advice you need to protect you and your family in light of the ongoing changes. Serving Bedford, Northampton and Milton Keynes, our lawyers can help you with your family law and divorce matters.  Contact us for a free 30 minute consultation.

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