Brexit deadline looming for family law protection

18th November 2020

Brexit deadline looming for family law protection

Failure to do so could lead to the prospect of an uncertain and costly international battle.

That’s the message from Claire Darley, a partner in the Family team at West Midlands law firm Higgs & Sons, as the deadline for the Brexit transition period – which ends on December 31 – draws closer.

Currently, EU law states that divorces and associated family issues - such as arrangements for children - filed and finalised in a member state are recognised in other European countries.

However, this will no longer apply to family law proceedings in England and Wales after the end of this year, creating a potentially murky battle if the divorcees go on to live in different countries.

The change could have a major impact on financial claims and future arrangements for the care of children and where they will live.

Claire said: “It’s a very important time looming for family law and it’s crucial that people are aware of the impending changes.

“If any individual is considering divorce or proceedings around parental responsibilities or arrangements for their children, they should do everything in their power to issue those proceedings before the end of the year.

“Failure to do so could cause real confusion. For instance, if one person involved in the proceedings is living in the UK and the other is in an EU country, it is extremely unclear how it will be decided where cases are heard and how a verdict will be recognised in another country.

“Similarly, consideration should potentially be given to entering into nuptial agreements for those who are married or intending to marry.

“Again, this would provide clarity over which country’s rules would apply in the event of a future dispute.

“It’s a hugely complicated situation and will require us to work closer than ever with lawyers in the EU and the rest of the world to protect our client’s interests.

“However, putting measures in place now would remove all that uncertainty.”

For the remainder of 2020, people beginning divorce proceedings will be able to select which country they are issued in, with a law known as Brussels II ensuring the outcome will be recognised across Europe.



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