As you will be aware the UK formally left the EU on the 31st January 2020 after a long period of negotiations. One of the most significant impacts on the country of joining the EU was the fact that the UK would need to be bound by and implement laws made by the European Parliament. The European Courts could also decide cases which would impact upon the laws that the UK and its courts had to observe.
Many of the issues dealt with in European laws directly impacted upon areas relating to Family law in the UK. These have included:-
Remedies available when children have been removed from one member state to another
Reciprocal implementation between member states of agreements such as payments of child maintenance and enforcement of them
Disputes about which country’s courts should deal with a divorce when the parties lived in more than one country.
Brexit and the country’s withdrawal from the European Union does therefore bring into question what changes will be made to the areas of Family Law which affect these issues.
We are presently in an implementation period which lasts for 12 months although this can be extended by agreement. During that period we will remain subject to the laws enacted in Europe. This means that nothing much will change in terms of Family Law during this period.
What will happen after the implementation period comes to an end depends on the type of deal agreed between the UK and the EU. Whilst the UK will not be bound by decisions of the European courts once the implementation period comes to an end there is currently legislation planned which will make the European rules that we have complied with into UK law. It may be that nothing much will change within the UK however one area that may cause difficulties is the issue of other European states recognising and implementing court orders made in the UK. Further discussions will need to take place if safeguards currently in place are to continue.
It seems that there is a lot more work to do to clarify the legal relationship between the UK, the EU and it’s members once the implementation period has ended and we will need to wait and see exactly how that impacts upon Family Law.