Fewer people divorcing due to EU uncertainty

A no-deal Brexit could see some EU family law agreements no longer apply to the UK.

It will affect rules on the country that family law disputes are heard in and how decisions made in one country will be recognised and enforced in another.

This applies to cases in England and Wales for divorce, matters relating to children, child maintenance and EU rules on child abduction.

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Sarah Phillips is associate solicitor and collaborative lawyer for and on behalf of Dean Wilson LLP in Brighton.

In her role Sarah advises and assists married couples, separated parents, cohabitees, etc in connection with financial and children disputes.

She has already seen the impact Brexit has had on her work.“Brexit has and will cause major uncertainty in family law, particularly for those with a connection with an overseas jurisdiction. “The enforcement of maintenance obligations and financial orders, and bringing financial claims at all, will be fraught with complexity and increased cost and uncertainty for litigants. “There are likely to be jurisdiction races with the parties seeking to issue first in the jurisdiction most advantageous to their case. “England may no longer be the divorce capital of the world, the jurisdiction wives dash to in order to get the best possible financial provision for themselves and their children.”

The organisation Resolution, which represents family law firms, had previously warned Brexit was adding pressure to couples on the edge of divorce.

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Sarah adds that she feels it has meant a decrease in divorce applications.

She said: “I think people are more cautious about separating or divorcing when the financial future of the country is so uncertain.“Secondly, Brexit has affected property values and consequently negotiations around parties who want to buy out their partner’s interest in the family home. “Further, it has impacted my client’s incomes, in particular those clients whose business has a client base in Europe, and pension valuations, due to the dip in the financial markets.”

Other issues that may be impacted on relates to same sex couples wanting to rely on the UK being their permanent home in order to apply for divorce here.

She added: “Brexit will obviously most affect the practice of lawyers who specialise in international family law and cases spanning more than one jurisdiction.”

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For most people if you apply for divorce after exit day, the new rules will be in place but you should apply in the same way.

However, getting your divorce recognised in an EU country after a UK no deal exit may be affected.

In regards to matters relating to children if you start a case after exit day you should apply in the same way. But if a case about arrangements for your children is ongoing in an EU country or you need to have an order accepted and put into action in an EU country after exit day, this may need to be done in a different court or under a different procedure.

If you think your case may be affected by any of this Gov.uk advises you to speak to a lawyer or Citizens Advice as soon as possible. If the UK leaves the EU with a deal there will be no change to the process during the Implementation Period.