If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement certain family law disputes will be affected including divorce recognition, custody, and access to children.
If you are, or will be involved in a family law dispute with someone living in Britain or Northern Ireland, or involving a British or Northern Irish court, consider discussing with your lawyer how the withdrawal may impact upon your particular case.
You can find more information below on certain issues. Because of the sensitivity and variety of family law cases, this information is of a general nature only.
If you have a child support or family maintenance arrangement with someone who is living in Britain or Northern Ireland, mechanisms are in place to allow cooperation to continue.
What this means:
If you are in receipt of maintenance prior to the UK leaving the EU on foot of a judgment given in a British or Northern Irish court your situation will not change.
If you have made an application through the Central Authority for a maintenance decision or for enforcement of a decision which is in the UK system prior to 29 March it will continue to be dealt with on the basis of the current arrangements.
If you make an application through the Central Authority for recognition and enforcement of a decision in Britain or Northern Ireland after Brexit there may be a small delay in processing your application but co-operation mechanisms will be in place to deal with your case.
Recognition of divorces obtained in the UK
In the event of a no deal Brexit, it may be more difficult to have divorces obtained in Britain and Northern Ireland recognised in Ireland.
What this means:
In the event of a no deal Brexit, the UK would no longer be covered by EU laws relating to matrimonial matters. However, there are still provisions in place to ensure foreign divorces can be recognised.
For example, while British and Northern Irish divorces would no longer be recognised under EU law, they could be recognised the same way as divorces from countries like Australia and New Zealand currently are assessed.
In some cases, it may be necessary to make an application to court for a declaration that the validity of a British or Northern Irish divorce is entitled to recognition in Ireland. This is provided for by section 29 of the Family Law Act 1995.
This will depend on the circumstances of each individual case, and you may wish to seek legal advice to clarify what impact the UK leaving the EU may have.
If the referendum on divorce scheduled for 24 May is passed by the people, the Government intends to bring forward proposals to update the law on recognition of foreign divorces. If necessary, the Government will consider bringing forward legislation quickly to specifically address any negative impact that a no-deal Brexit might have on recognition of UK divorces.
In the event of a no deal Brexit the UK would no longer be covered by EU laws relating to issues of parental responsibility.
This could have an impact on things like applications for rights of access, co-operation requests in relation to the obtaining of social reports, the placement of a child in another jurisdiction and the transfer of jurisdiction between courts for Britain and Northern Ireland.
What this means:
While EU laws will no longer apply, there are still provisions in place to ensure parental responsibility issues can be addressed.
For the purposes of parental responsibility the UK would be considered in the same way as countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
This means cases involving the UK concerning parental responsibility, and measures for the protection of children, will be governed by the Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children 1996
More detailed information on the convention and other parental responsibility issues can be found here: http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/WP15000137#13
Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
In the event of a no deal Brexit, the UK would no longer be covered by EU laws relating to international child abduction.
While EU laws will no longer apply, there are still provisions in place to ensure child abduction cases can be addressed relating to Britain and Northern Ireland.
What this means:
When the UK ceases to be a member of the EU it will be considered in the same way as the USA, Australia and New Zealand when it comes to child abduction cases.
The relevant instrument for cases with Britain and Northern Ireland concerning the civil aspects of international child abductions will be the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980.
There are provisions in this Convention which can be used instead of the EU Regulations currently in use with UK cases.
Information on the operation of this Convention can be found here: Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980