Brexit and family law..who knew?!

16th October 2018 Family Law

Please note that this blog was posted before the future legal relationship between the UK and the EU had been made clear. Certain aspects of the law pertaining to Brexit may be out of date.

While negotiations remain ongoing in high-level Brexit talks, the many, more down to earth, practical implications of Brexit are being looked at behind the scenes. My colleague, Ruth Kearns, blogged recently about the ways in which the government is preparing for Brexit day and its impact upon family law.

One aspect of our European Membership that requires attention is the fact that the EU has signed up to various international conventions “on our behalf„. However, after Brexit day, we will need to seek readmission to these in our own right. This holds the potential to create gaps in coverage unless the situation is managed carefully. Added to this, certain regulations including the so-called Maintenance Regulation will no longer apply to cross-border issues as between the UK and other EU member states. Something needs to take their place.

The reciprocal enforcement of child and other forms of maintenance is one such area. Someone is clearly beavering away in the background and the government has published a draft statutory instrument (secondary legislation that tends to deal with fine detail rather than broad legal frameworks) on this topic under a process known as “sifting„. The aim of the statutory instrument is to make sure payers and payees in cross border maintenance cases do not fall foul of the fact that we will (1) no longer be a member of the EU and therefore not covered by the Maintenance Regulation and (2) no longer be a member of the 2007 Hague Convention governing maintenance enforcement.

What about “sifting„ then? There are 14 days for the committees in both Houses of Parliament to check that the statutory instrument does what it is supposed to. That’s what sifting is. Expect much more sifting as the weeks go by..

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Emma Benson is a Senior Associate Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Family department

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