Brexit implications on Family Law

There is a real possibility that the UK will leave the EU on 29 March 2019, without having reached a Brexit deal. In layman’s terms, a no deal Brexit would result in the UK leaving the European Union without having come to an agreement on the terms of departure, nor the possibility of a future relationship.

In this scenario, the current cooperation between the UK and the EU will end, having significant implications on the legal regime in many areas of family law such as:

  • Divorce
  • Financial provision
  • Maintenance
  • Child arrangements
  • Child Abduction
  • Child Protection Cases.

If we do leave the EU without a deal, the UK will need to consider the impact of losing the benefits of the following agreements:

  • Brussels II bis Regulation
  • Maintenance Regulation
  • Lugano Convention
  • Hague Convention
  • Protocol on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations

The Law Society have published detailed guidance on how to prepare for such circumstances. In summary, professionals should be aware of the following points:

  • In some areas of law, such as child abduction, the Hague Conventions will continue to apply.
  • National law rules will apply to family law in the UK.
  • In some cases, agreements pre-dating EU membership may exist between the UK and EU member states.
  • The status of ongoing cases is unclear and any current rules will not be enforceable for cases decided after March 2019.
  • EU family law instruments based on the principle of mutual recognition will no longer apply.
  • The cross-border recognition of judgments in relation to divorce will be governed by national law, unless the states involved are parties to the Hague Convention on divorce.

Current conventions and agreements

  • Maintenance and Brussels II bis Regulations – will no longer have effect.
  • The Lugano Convention – will not automatically apply. The UK would need to be invited to become a member of the Lugano Convention
  • Hague Conventions on Private International Law – will apply under a no-deal scenario.

The full guidance document can be downloaded here.