13 February 2019
How will Brexit affect family law?
As we reported in December in light of the MPs forthcoming vote in January, Brexit could have a significant impact on family law, particularly if we leave the European Union with no deal.
Family law seems to be ahead of the curve in that up to date practical guidance for family lawyers if there is no deal has been produced by the Law Society and the government also produced guidance last week (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/family-law-disputes-involving-eu-after-brexit/family-law-disputes-involving-eu-after-brexit).
Many cases going through the courts of England and Wales (whether they relate to divorce, money or children) will not be affected by Brexit as there will be no link outside of England and Wales, however in light of the forthcoming changes, the advice remains to obtain specialist advice from a family lawyer as soon as possible if your circumstances are such that another EU member state (or in some instances another country outside of the EU) may have jurisdiction or enforcement may be required in another EU member state.
If your case is ongoing (for example cases where the courts of England and Wales has limited jurisdiction to deal with financial matters as a result of the court’s jurisdiction being based on the sole domicile of one of the parties) there may also be a benefit in either delaying a claim or resolving it urgently. It should be noted that the sole domicile example can also apply to cases where the competing jurisdiction is not another EU state, as the regulation which limits the jurisdiction in such cases is a piece of EU legislation and can apply prior to Exit Day to cases with no EU involvement.
Likewise, in cases concerning children where registration of an order made in England and Wales is required in an EU member state, EU guidance has been produced, and it would be sensible to take urgent advice as to steps that should be taken before Exit Day to ensure if possible that orders, where necessary, are registered and that process has been completed, not just begun, prior to Exit Day.
The above is a brief summary and anyone who considers they may be affected by the outcome of Brexit and in particular one with no deal they should contact partner Claire Filer on 01753 279047 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.