Brexit, divorce and family law

Not only politicians and business owners are preparing for Brexit. Even top London divorce solicitors are considering how divorce and family law cases in England and Wales will be affected if the UK leaves the EU with no deal in place.

Most husbands and wives who decide to separate or divorce do not realise how EU law currently influences divorce and family law in England and Wales. If the UK exits the EU with a deal in place, it is anticipated that there would no immediate changes to domestic laws. However, with no deal in sight, the best London divorce solicitors are looking at the impact of Brexit on divorcing families.

You may think that Brexit will not affect your family but Brexit affects families who have a choice of more than one country in which to start divorce proceedings and that is surprisingly common with many families having EU connections or living in an EU country.

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

If you need expert family law advice on your separation, divorce, children or financial issues or you require representation in court proceedings, then the divorce and family law team at OTS Solicitors can help you. 

For a confidential discussion on how OTS Solicitors can help you please call us on 0203 959 9123.

Brexit and divorce proceedings 

Many spouses do not realise that they have a potential choice about the country in which they could start divorce proceedings. The top London divorce solicitors will tell you that divorce jurisdiction can be a major factor in deciding how much a husband or wife should receive in a divorce financial settlement. That is why it is so vital that expert legal advice is taken before divorce proceedings are started. 

It is also now important the best London divorce solicitors consider how an individual’s ability to start or continue divorce proceedings in their preferred country may be affected by the UK leaving the EU without a deal in place. In some cases, divorce proceedings should be started quickly and in other situations, the best advice may be to wait. 

Currently, if divorce proceedings could be started in England and Wales or in another EU country, the divorce proceedings will go ahead in the country where the divorce proceedings were first started. The top London divorce solicitors refer to this rule as “lis pendens”. The rule is designed to avoid expensive court proceedings and couples arguing over whether a divorce should take place in one or another EU country.

However, if the UK exits the EU without a deal in place it is thought that the lis pendens rule will end. That means that if spouses have a potential choice of starting divorce proceedings in England or in a country in the EU, the court will decide if the divorce should go ahead in England or in the EU country based on the closest connection test. This is called “forum non conveniens”.

Currently, if a couple are getting divorced and divorce proceedings could be started in England or in a non-EU country, then the closest connection test is used by the court to decide where the divorce proceedings should take place if there is a dispute between a husband and wife. 

Using the closest connection test makes it harder for top London divorce solicitors to predict where the court will decide that the divorce proceedings should take place and could make divorce proceedings, with a jurisdiction element, more expensive and difficult. 

The best London divorce solicitors emphasise that this is not just a technical point as the country in which the divorce takes place could potentially make a massive difference to the amount of any court ordered financial settlement.

If you are contemplating a divorce and potentially there is more than one court jurisdiction or country where the divorce proceedings could be determined, it may or may not be in your interests to start or delay the divorce proceedings until after the UK has left the EU. The answer may not be as clear-cut as if you wait until after the UK has left the EU to rely on the closest connection test different EU countries might adopt different procedures on how to deal with UK divorce jurisdiction cases. They will be able to do that as the EU divorce forum law will no longer be relevant to the UK.

Getting divorce jurisdiction right is very important for all the associated financial considerations. That is why it pays to get specialist legal advice from a top London divorce solicitors as well as a solicitor in any other potential divorce court jurisdictions.

The recognition of UK Divorces by EU countries after a no-deal Brexit  

If you get divorced in England, it is currently taken for granted that any other EU country will accept that you are divorced provided that you can produce your decree absolute of divorce. The reciprocal arrangement by EU countries to recognise and respect divorces made in other EU countries will not apply to the UK if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in place.      

Does that mean that if you go to Spain or to another EU country that you will not be considered a divorcee? The likelihood is that any divorce will be recognised, especially if the EU country is a signatory of the Hague Convention. If you are concerned that your decree absolute of divorce or dissolution of civil partnership document will not be recognised by an EU country after Brexit, then it is important to take specialist advice.  The majority of divorces will be recognised but if you have a same sex civil partnership dissolution or divorce then some EU countries might not recognise it, so it is worth getting advice.   

As we move ever nearer to the Brexit date and into unchartered legal territories, the ripple effects of a no deal Brexit will affect many individuals and families in ways that politicians and the media have not fully grappled with yet. The best indefinite Leave to remain recommend that the best option is to speak to a specialist family lawyer about your divorce and court jurisdiction options so you get advice tailored to your individual needs. 

How can OTS Solicitors help? 

For pragmatic expert legal advice from central London divorce solicitors on your separation and divorce options, for answers to your family law queries or for representation in divorce, children or financial court proceedings please call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 for a confidential discussion about how the divorce and family law team at OTS Solicitors can help you.  

 

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