Brexit puts 5 million couples at risk from delayed divorce. With the UK leaving the EU on the 31st December, does it effect you?
We hear a lot about Brexit and divorce, but these discussions are about the UK’s separation from Europe, not the impact of Brexit on family law and a couple’s divorce. Does this mean there is nothing to worry about? Not quite.
The UK left the EU on 31st January 2020 and the transitional period where EU rules and procedures continue to apply finishes on 31st December 2020.
As Brexit talks inch towards a last-minute deal, the effect that Brexit will have on family law and divorce does not appear to be a priority.
Current rules on divorce
Around 3.8 million EU citizens live in the UK, and 1.3 million UK citizens live in the EU. If a couple who are citizens of one EU member state live in another EU member country, the country they can get divorced in is governed by EU Regulations known as Brussels II-A or Brussels II bis.
Under this regulation, there is a rule called ‘Lis Penden’, which means that whoever files first in one EU member state secures that countries jurisdiction for their divorce.
Consequences of Brexit on divorce
On 31st December 2020, we will revert to the pre-EU rules that exist with all other non-EU countries. This means that divorcing couples from different countries might end up with lengthy and costly disputes over which EU country their divorce should take place.
The UK has asked to join the Lugano Convention, an international treaty negotiated by the EU that attempts to clarify which national courts have jurisdiction in cross-border disputes, and to ensure judgements are enforceable across borders. If we do re-join the Lugano Convention, ‘Lis Pendens’ will be reintroduced.
What does Brexit mean for me and my divorce?
Divorce petitions initiated before 31st December 2020 will remain under the existing rules. Therefore, if you or your partner are from, or live in a different EU country, you might want to start your divorce before the 31st December 2020.
Our fully managed service costs £169. We also offer a three-month payment plan allowing you to spread the cost. For only £59 we could start your divorce today and avoid any Brexit complications.