Government unveils plans for family law in the event of a 'no-deal' Brexit

Published: 18th September 2018

Government unveils plans for family law in the event of a 'no-deal' Brexit

As Brexit creeps ever closer, new plans were released on the 13th of September by the Government, explaining how the countries leaders intend on dealing with Family Law matters in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit on 29th of March 2019.

EU Rules being Repealed

Currently, when matters involve divorce, child custody and international child abduction, England, Wales and Northern Island abide by Brussels IIA rules. However, according to the new plans laid out by the Government, the Brussels IIA rules would be repealed.

This repeal may also be applied to the “lis pendens” rules, which currently gives the ability for courts to freeze a divorce proceeding, even if an EU court has already started dealing with the case. This has had a particular impact on the views of other legal professionals who see the repeal of the lis pendens rule to be a positive change.

The repeal for the lis pendens rules would be in effect for all parts of England, Wales and Northern Ireland in which the courts in each jurisdiction would come to the decision on the most relevant and appropriate court to take action on the related family matter.

Equivalent Hague Conventions to replace repealed EU Rules

The Government continues to explain that where EU rules have been repealed, the law would switch to relevant Hague Conventions which currently include:

  • Parental responsibility matters
  • Rules for the return of abducted or children retained against their will
  • Maintenance recognition and enforcement
  • Central authority cooperation

Other Hague Conventions such as the 1970 Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations will continue to be in place in the unlikely event of a no-deal Brexit. This convention regulates divorce and separations that have adhered to correct legal processes where the divorce was obtained.

Other Civil Family Law related conventions that the Government intend on keeping are:

  • The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child
  • The 2007 Hague Convention (in which the Government would prepare to formally re-join in the event on a no-deal)
  • Equivalent Hague Conventions would replace EU Service Regulation and the Taking of Evidence Regulation.

For those who are uncertain about the repeals and introductions of rules and conventions, the UK Government have reassured individuals in their plans that these changes will be adopted for same sex marriages and civil partnerships.

Ongoing Cases on Exit Day

In the event that individuals are still dealing with a divorce, separation or other family matters in a UK court after Brexit, they should continue as normal as these cases will be dealt with under the current rules. However there is a small warning for those dealing with issues through EU courts that they may not follow suit and should therefore seek legal advice to learn how this situation may impact them and their family matters.

There appears to be mixed opinions on the decisions made by the Government, as some family law professionals have voiced that, in the event of a no-deal, these changes will have a positive impact on the UK court system and arrangements involving family law. Others fear that certain repeals may cause more pressure within UK courts, an issue that needs to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

If you are thinking about divorce or separation and are concerned about your financial situation then K J Smith Solicitors can help. Our team of experienced family law professionals have dealt with a wide range of matters from prenuptial agreements and cohabitation agreements to financial settlements on divorce.

For more information or to arrange a free 45-minute consultation, please contact K J Smith Solicitors today on 01491 630000 (Henley on Thames), 020 7070 0330 (London), 0118 418 1000 (Reading), 01753 325000 (Windsor), 01256 584000 (Basingstoke) 01483 370100 (Guildford), 01494 629000 (Beaconsfield) or 01235 375500 (Abingdon).

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