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Will Brexit affect my divorce?

No matter what our opinions are about Brexit I think we can all agree that there has been a significant amount of reporting in the media about it. I don’t think that this is about to change anytime soon either given today’s result in Parliament.  

What doesn’t seem to be clear at the moment is how Brexit is going to affect us in real terms and I know that we have been considering this within the Family team here at Ashfords.

In terms of the divorce process, Brexit comes into it in relation to jurisdiction. The meaning of jurisdiction is where the proceedings will take place. Brexit comes into it because as you may already know the United Kingdom made a decision to leave the European Union on 23rd June 2016.

An example of how Brexit may affect the area of family law is because currently there are European laws that we are bound by as a member of the European Union. There will be a process to sort through the law and particular, European law to determine the implications for family proceedings in the United Kingdom. You may hear this referred to as the sifting process.

An example of how Brexit may affect you is if you are a UK national and you are married to someone who was born in the European Union. The reason for this is that there are provisions set out in the law for jurisdiction which can apply where applications are made in more than one place (jurisdiction). Think of it like the European Union currently has a common set of rules across all European Union jurisdictions but the United Kingdom determines its own terms for law in family proceedings too. In the United Kingdom there are individual legal processes for England & Wales, Scotland and North Ireland. Our team at Ashfords can help you work out which is the best jurisdiction to start proceedings.

Currently, we are governed by the Domicile and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1973 and the European Union regulations known as Brussels IIA (the Council regulation on Jurisdiction and the Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments in Matrimonial Matters and in Matters of Parental Responsibility, Council Regulation EC 2201/2003.

We may also need to consider whether the financial aspects of your separation are affected, for example, orders relating to spousal or child maintenance. This is important in terms of the potential of a ‘no deal’ Brexit. It is not yet clear what is going to happen in the future but if you are in any doubt please contact us.

This article was prepared by our Associate Solicitor, Emily Botham (nee Angell) on 24th September 2019. Emily is based in our Exeter office. For further information please contact her on 01392 334079 or e.botham@ashfords.co.uk.

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