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What impact will Brexit have on international divorce cases?
We are now one year on since the UK voted to leave the EU and the issue of how this will affect international divorce cases in England and Wales remains uncertain. Until we have clarity, it is important to bear in mind two main issues that arise regarding the issuing of divorce proceedings and enforcement of orders (see below).
1. Divorce proceedings
In today’s society, many married couples originate from one European Union country [‘EU country’] but spend time living in another. Under the current system, if they decide to divorce then they may have the option of issuing divorce proceedings in more than one EU country. Where the divorce is first issued, is where it [the divorce] will be dealt with.
The benefit of the current system is that it avoids the possibility of very expensive and lengthy litigation over where the divorce should be dealt with. However, whilst providing certainty, the downside for some is that it can lead to less favourable financial settlements. The reason for this is that in many EU countries their divorce law provides for less generous financial settlements for the financial weaker party in comparison to this country.
As things stand, there is often a race between the parties to secure the jurisdiction of the court of their choice. Without such provision, perhaps this will lead to more amicable outcomes.
At present, orders relating to finances and children are automatically recognised and enforceable in other EU countries, which makes enforcing the order in another EU country easier and quicker. Without this provision, enforcing an order will result in the expense and stress of further litigation.
When we exit the EU, new law will be needed. At present, we don’t know whether this will essentially mirror all or part of the EU law that we currently follow or if we will end up with an entirely new system. For the time being at least, everything stays the same
Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.