Brexit and family law
This information has been prepared by Sykes Anderson Perry Limited as a general guide only and does not constitute advice on any specific matter. We strongly recommend that you seek professional advice before taking action. No liability can be accepted by us for any action taken or not taken as a result of any information or advice given or omitted.
Brexit will have implications on a personal level for international families living in the UK and British families living in the EU. This will be the case even where both parents are British, but at least one of them holds another nationality.
The divorce rules, and concepts such as matrimonial property regimes, child maintenance, spousal maintenance, vary widely across the EU (and beyond). This means that each party may want to file for divorce (or other family proceedings) in a specific country.
At the moment, the EU divorce regulation, known as Brussels IIa applies to divorce proceedings in the EU (including the UK). It sets out a series of rules to decide which jurisdiction should hear the divorce proceedings. There is also a determining rule that if there are two (or more) jurisdictions which qualify, the first one to be seised will automatically have jurisdiction.
If, as Theresa May has said, there is a “Great Repeal Bill”, it may be that the current EU rules under Brussels IIa will continue to apply in the UK – but this could lead to the rather strange situation, where an English court ceded jurisdiction to an EU state that was applied to first, but that EU state would not cede jurisdiction to the English court if they were applied to first.
There is likely to be a need to review the divorce proceedings rules, and it may not be a high priority for the UK government, leading to uncertainty and higher costs for years to come.
At the moment, high costs are often incurred in divorce cases where there is a dispute as to which jurisdiction should hear the case (where non-EU countries are involved).
If there is any international element in a family where divorce or other family proceedings are taking place or will take place, specialist advice will be needed.
Nicole Gallop Mildon
Solicitor and diplômée notaire