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How could Family Law principles change after Brexit?

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If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, there are several family law agreements that will be effected and potentially no longer apply to the UK.

This will mainly affect the principles surrounding the country that family law disputes are heard in and how the decisions that are made in one country can be enforced and recognised in another country.

The European legislation which governs the rules for jurisdiction, would no longer apply to cases in England and Wales after exit day.


What areas of law will be affected?

Within family law, the changes will apply to divorce, matters relating to children, child maintenance and the EU rules on child abduction.

Any cases that are ongoing at the date the UK leaves the EU, will continue under the current rules.



The current law allows individuals who are citizens of one EU member state, yet living and working in a different member state, to choose where to file for a divorce. However, if the UK were to leave the EU without a deal, this principle will no longer apply.

If you were to petition for a divorce after the date the UK leaves the EU, getting the divorce recognised in a different EU country to the one it was issued in, may be affected, as the new rules will be in place.

If the divorce is made final before the UK leaves the EU, and there is a need for the divorce to be recognised in a different EU country, you must ensure that a certificate is obtained from the court and sent to that EU country for acceptance and registration.

It cannot be assumed that UK divorces will be recognised in all EU member states.


Matters relating to children

The general principles that will change with matters relating to children are similar to those for divorce.

If you start a case after the UK leaves, there will be new rules in place that have to be followed.

There will be a difference procedure to follow if you case is ongoing at the time the UK leaves, and you require your Order to be recognised in another EU country, and it likely it will have to be dealt with in a different court.

As long as a final order has been registered in another court where you wish for it to be effective before the UK leaves, it should not be affected.

If further applications in relation to the children are made after the UK leaves, there will be a different procedure to follow for the order to be accepted in the other country.



There will be a different process to follow to make applications for maintenance after the UK leaves the EU.

If there is a child maintenance decision that was made in one court that you wish to have accepted in another EU country after the UK leaves, you will have to contact the REMO unit.


International Child Abduction

Generally the rules regarding child abduction will remain the same but if you are an applicant in an abduction case, it is important to seek legal advice about any changes that may affect your case.


If you require any further information on the above, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Family Team at Emery Johnson Astills, who will be able to provide you with advice and explain what options are available to you.