In the pre-Brexit era, there was an increase in cases involving international family law issues and cross-border cases. Even today, it isn’t unusual for families to be dispersed across multiple countries and own properties abroad. Many children are part of families that travel frequently and live in more than one country.

However, Brexit has surely changed the way families deal with disputes and divorce cases. Here’s how Brexit has impacted family law and divorce:

Brexit’s Impact on Divorce Cases

In a pre-Brexit world, the question of which country a divorce would be issued in was dealt with by a Council Regulation known as Brussels II. Each partner would often race to the court to benefit from the lis pendens rule, which dictates that the first party to issue proceedings at court obtains the court jurisdiction in that country. People often required urgent advice and had to take action right after to secure the best proceedings arena.

However, Brexit certainly changed this ruling. That said, divorces issued before or on 31st December 2020 will follow this rule, and the divorce will be recognized under the Brussels II regulation. However, for divorces filed after the stipulated date, the lis pendens rule has been replaced by a forum conveniens rule, which previously only applied to non-EU countries.

Under this rule, a court has the authority to decline to deal with a divorce case if they deem it to be more convenient or appropriate for a different country to deal with it. This change has certainly led to more prolonged and costly disputes regarding which country should issue the divorce if both parties cannot agree.

Brexit has also impacted another aspect of divorce cases: jurisdictional grounds to bring a divorce. Today, a petitioner can only initiate divorce proceedings in Wales and England if the English court has jurisdiction to handle those proceedings. The removal of Brussels II has altered the definition of the jurisdiction in a divorce petition. These technical points continue to impact divorce applications and make the process more tiresome.

Brexit’s Impact on Children Law

Before Brexit, the Brussels II regulation ensured consistency in international family law disputes as it recognized parental responsibility across EU member states. It also regulated the rules centred on children protection and abduction in the European Union.

However, since Brexit, international children disputes have gotten more complicated. After all, parenting through a separation or divorce isn’t an easy feat when you live in the same country, but things are bound to become a lot more challenging when you add different jurisdictions to the mix.

In a post-Brexit world, the divorcing partners might have to deal with changes in maintenance agreements, custody, access to children, and gaps in the law that Brexit might not have covered. The only way to reduce the length of the litigation process and costs incurred is to seek legal advice right away to proceed down the right path.

The Bottom Line

Brexit’s impact on family law continues to unfold with each passing day as we learn more and more about how the move altered the way couples can file for and fight a divorce case or deal with cases related to the custody and maintenance of their children.