After Brexit, we need to be certain that UK Family Court Orders will still be upheld and enforced in Europe, and vice versa.
That was, in very brief summary, the conclusion of the Justice Committee’s report which looked favorably upon the EU laws which the UK will inevitably lose as part of Brexit. Whilst the government continue to argue about the size of the Brexit “divorce bill”, from a family law perspective, the inevitable replacement of cross-border laws leaves more questions than answers.
London has always been known as the divorce capital of the world. This is largely because of the fairness (or generosity) of her Courts but also because judges in England and Wales are some of the most professional and independent in the world.
You might not have realised though that every single divorce in England and Wales is founded on the jurisdictional requirements of an EU law, called Brussels IIa.
In times when there are more families living an international lifestyle across the UK and Europe, individuals benefit from the certainty of knowing that Court Orders apply to them and their spouses with a degree of consistency. In England and Wales, we are only becoming a more international country; 27% of children born in England and Wales are born to a foreign mother. Those parents and children will benefit from clear and enforceable laws, designed to protect them, across different jurisdictions.
The questions raised in the Justice Committee’s report concern what the alternative would be if we suddenly did away with the EU family laws. The laws in place currently ensure that a parent in England can be certain that the Court Order they have will be enforced by Courts across Europe. That Court Order might be for the return of a child following a holiday, or the payment of maintenance arrears to support a family.
If the laws are not reciprocal between the member states, then the “divorce bill” will increase significantly for the individuals concerned, let alone the country as a whole.