CP Law Associates

How could a 'no deal Brexit' affect cross border divorce?

As the dreaded deadline for Brexit approaches, a ‘no deal’ scenario could have a significant impact on millions of UK residents, in particular couples that are facing the prospect of ending their marriage when the individuals involved are citizens of separate countries.

If the UK was to leave the EU with a ‘no deal’ it would affect those who were born abroad, UK residents that have a non British nationality or those who are married to a British national as well as British nationals who are married to an EU national – this is around 3.5 million people living in the UK.

What are the changes?

The change in rules will affect the country in which family law disputes can be heard and also how any decisions made in one country will be recognised or enfored in another. For England and Wales, this applies to divorce which will include financial relief cases and child maintenance.

Currently, under the existing jurisdiction rules within the EU Law, parties to a marriage could issue divorce proceedings in a number of different Member States. – this means that when it comes to divorcing you are currently able to choose to divorce in a country whose domestic laws were better suited to those involved. At the end of a divorce case a decree of divorce and the majority of financial orders were then guaranteed to be recognised under EU laws in other EU Member States without having to implement further procedures.


What will happen after the UK leaves the EU?

From 1st January 2021 once the UK has fully transitioned out of the EU the court in England and Wales will recognise divorces granted in EU Member States the same way as it recognises orders from non EU countries which is under the 1970 Hague Convention on Divorce Recognition – this was implemented in our domestic law.

For divorce procedures that were started at the end of the transition period, they will be governed by each Member State’s national rules of private international law, unless they are part of the 1970 Hague Convention in which case those rules will apply. There are only 12 existing EU member state.

The below scenarios may help with the understanding of the changes:

Will Brexit affect existing divorce proceedings?

If your divorce proceedings had started before 31st December 2020 then you can continue to divorce in the country that you started it.

However, if you can conclude your divorce it is advisable to apply for recognition before 31st December 2020. If you are concerned about Brexit affecting your existing divorce proceedings please contact us to speak with a lawyer.

I’ve signed a prenuptial agreement, will my choice of Jurisdiction still be valid?

When you made a prenuptial agreement you are able to choose the country in which your divorce would be handled.

Both the UK government and the EU will continue to honour this provided that your prenuptial agreement was made before 31 December 2020.

If you are concerned that your divorce plans may be affected when the UK departs from the EU on 31st December 2020, then we suggest you contact our divorce team at CP Law Associates via the form below:

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