Brexit & Divorce UK | What You Need To Know

By January 10, 2020

Boris Jonson has said he is “one step closer to getting Brexit done” after MPs have backed the Prime Minister in leaving the EU on the 31st January 2020.

So with the date approaching the question is, what will happen in regards to divorce if we leave the EU?

Whether we leave with a deal or without a deal, our relationship with the EU could mean big changes on how a lot of current procedures operate including how divorces are dealt with between the UK and countries in the EU.

At present all EU countries follow a set of rules called EU Council Regulation 2201/2003, known as “Brussels II A” or “Brussels II bis.

This set of rules essentially says who can divorce and where they can divorce if based in the EU and will determine whether a divorce can be issued in which country based on habitual residence or domicile. The practical effects are that whoever issues first, that country’s courts will have precedence. It also allows the courts in EU countries to recognize and enforce each other’s judgments.

At the moment there is no clarity about how we will operate after Brexit and this will no doubt have to be negotiated in the so-called implementation period in the event of a deal, or as and when we leave in the event of a no-deal.

What happens if we leave in the event of a no-deal Brexit?

Divorce cases ongoing in England and Wales

If your divorce proceedings are ongoing in England and Wales when the UK leaves the EU your divorce will still follow the current law and rules of Brussels IIa.

New divorce cases in England and Wales

If you apply for a divorce in England & Wales after the UK leave the EU the Brussels IIa will no longer apply.

The government website states the following:

“As retained EU law it is revoked, and jurisdictional rules for the court in England and Wales which replicate those in Brussels IIa have been inserted into section 5(2) of the Domicile and Matrimonial Proceedings Act 1973, by the Jurisdiction and Judgments (Family) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations. Sole domicile as a ground of divorce etc jurisdiction has been added. The court in England and Wales will have a discretion to stay proceedings when there are proceedings continuing in another jurisdiction.

For same-sex divorce and civil partnership dissolution, the government has provided jurisdiction rules in the EU Exit Regulations which continue to replicate the rules in Brussels IIa.”

Cross border divorce cases after leaving the EU

If your cross-border divorce has been made final in the UK before we leave the EU you will need to get your divorce recognised in the EU.

Divorce Recognition for cross border divorce cases

If your divorce has been made final in the UK before Brexit and you are a UK citizen divorcing an EU national/person living in the EU or you are the EU citizen. You will need to take additional steps to ensure your divorce is recognised in the EU.

You will need to request a certificate from the court that granted your divorce and send it for acceptance to the EU country your divorce needs to be recognised in. this is normally the country where the EU person involved in the divorce is living or from.

Conclusion

The above information is currently correct however the status of the Brexit negotiations are ever-changing so please contact us if you would like more information.

Do you have any questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact us, we will try and answer any questions you may have!

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