The “B” word and the “D” word – Brexit and Divorce

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As soon as the UK leaves the EU on the 1 January 2021, there will be some changes to cross-border divorce law. The effect which Brexit will have on divorce and family law does not seem to be a priority in negotiations which could be due to some relevant conventions remaining in place but as for now, the current EU laws about family proceedings will no longer apply to the UK from 31 December 2020.

If there continues to be legal uncertainty surrounding jurisdictional issues, this could adversely affect children, families and how assets are treated in cross-border disputes.

How might Brexit affect you getting divorced?

English law governs matters such as the grounds for divorce and how the property of the divorcing couple might be divided. Whereas transitioning EU Law will affect procedural matters such as where the divorce takes place and which country’s law applies. This is important in financial proceedings because for example, English courts are seen as more favourable as they have a reputation for being more generous to financially weaker parties.

Currently when choosing between EU countries, the first to issue divorce petition seizes the jurisdiction of that country.   This law only works as there is agreement between all EU member states.  This will no longer be the case post-Brexit.

At the moment, for all non-EU countries there is what is known as a “forum conveniens” which often results in a lengthy and costly legal battle to decide which country should decide the divorce. Post Brexit, the first to seize jurisdiction will no longer apply with other EU countries and so couples will be left with no choice but to battle it out at extra cost.

Another consideration will be in respect of spousal or child maintenance awards which need to be enforced in an EU country. Currently there is an EU Maintenance Regulation which provides a framework for recognition and enforcement of maintenance awards between EU Member States. Post Brexit this Regulation has been removed. In some cases, it will be easier to bring a claim but issues will likely arise when it comes to enforcing that Order.

How IBB can help you:

Our family team have experience when dealing with cross-border family law issues and have close relationships with other lawyers within the EU. We are consistently up to date with the changes around family law and will be able to offer you clear guidance about what the new changes mean for you.

IBB’s divorce lawyers have experienced considerable success in ensuring clients receive the best possible outcome, by providing professional knowledge with a personal approach.

Speak to our Family Law specialists

IBB Law’s family law practice can provide expert advice on all family law issues. To contact the family law team please email  familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk  or call 03456 381 381.