With the dust settling following the UK’s Brexit decision, we are still wondering what precisely this will mean for everyone, what the economic implications may be and, for the lawyers amongst us, what the legal ramifications are for our clients?
Most coverage has focussed on the bigger picture, but with many relationships now having an international element, it is important to understand how Brexit could affect English family law.
A major concern amongst family lawyers is to ensure that the exit is properly planned with new legislation ready in time to replace current EU law, which governs some aspects of our work.
One area where we are governed by EU law is the decision as to which country has jurisdiction when divorce proceedings are issued. This can have a significant impact on the split of financial assets in the marital pot so we shall have to pass new legislation to deal with this before the exit actually happens.
The current rule is that if you issue divorce proceedings first, the case will be heard in the court where you have brought the case and this includes claims for property and other assets. Any proceedings subsequently started in another country will be halted. Whilst this gives clarity and certainty, it often results in a race to get to court first. Not only does this favour the wealthier spouse who has funds for immediate specialist legal advice, but it also potentially discourages separating couples from agreeing an arrangement without going to court.
There will be many aspects of family law to be considered in the coming months. Whilst there will be some uncertainty, this also creates an opportunity to examine our family law culture and improve and modernise our legal system.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.