Three family law organisations, Resolution, the Family Law Bar Association and the International Academy of Family Lawyers, have published a paper highlighting the impact that the slow progress of Brexit negotiations could have on family law in the UK.
Many family law disputes today have an international element, and the families affected rely on the reciprocal agreements that exist between EU member states.
Resolution highlights that there are around 140,000 international divorces and 1,800 child abduction cases across the EU each year. If Brexit doesn’t fully address how these international issues will be resolved going forward, the paper warns that many families face significant confusion and uncertainty and potentially unfair outcomes.
“Families needing to go to court must know that whatever court they end up in, in whatever country, that decision will be respected by other courts,” explained Daniel Eames, who chairs Resolution’s International Committee.
“EU instruments which affect UK family law deal primarily with procedural rather than substantive family law – sovereignty is not the issue here – but they require full reciprocity to work,” he said. “Without reciprocity there is a risk of a ‘one way street’ – the UK would continue to apply EU family law and be obliged unilaterally to recognise and enforce decisions of other EU member states – whereas EU member states would not be obliged to recognise and enforce our decisions.”
“This is a crucial issue for tens thousands of families in the UK, and the rest of the EU. If unresolved, these families could be left in limbo,” he added. “Our concern is that family law will go unnoticed among all the talk of trade deals, immigration and internal party politics. It may not top the Government’s priorities for Brexit, but the impact of inaction would be felt by families and their children for many years to come.”
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