Brexit and Family Law After 31 December 2020

The Brexit transition period ends at 11:00pm on New Year’s Eve. Beyond this, EU Regulations cease to apply to all new family law applications made thereafter.

In order to accommodate last minute applications to court to secure the jurisdiction of EU regulations, Practice Direction 5.2 has been amended to extend the deadline for filing online applications from 4.30pm to 11pm on 31 December 2020.

Under the EU/UK Withdraw Agreement 2019 EU laws (in particular the Maintenance Regulation and Brussels IIa relating to jurisdiction) will continue to apply in respect of any case in which proceedings are commenced before the end of the transition period. This is especially relevant where jurisdiction is a key issue in court proceedings, as rules relating to this will change. It will be particularly important in deciding the correct forum for divorce where competing divorce proceedings are taking place.

Perhaps most important of all, however, making an application whilst EU law still applies is important because it gives security and clarity in how any orders in family proceedings are recognised and enforced in the years ahead. This could be in relation to divorce, financial or children proceedings.

To avoid delay caused by pressure on the court system, proceedings should be instituted as soon as possible before the deadline and can be made online for speed. Nevertheless, the extension to the filing time is welcome for urgent applications .

This note is intended as general guidance only and not legal advice.  Every families situation is different and if you are concerned about instituting family proceedings before the end of the transition period, please contact a member of our family team who are happy to advise and assist, particularly where urgent steps need to be taken.

If you are interested in finding out more about how we can help you, please contact the Family and Matrimonial Department for further advice and assistance.