The UK Government's latest no deal planning papers could cause heartache for families as it warns those with ongoing cases to seek legal advice if their split is not finalised by the end of March.
The paper has warned that in the event of no deal with the EU, the UK will no longer be part of co-operation between EU family courts on 29 March 2019.
The paper said: "Broadly speaking, cases ongoing on exit day will continue to proceed under the current rules.
"However, we cannot guarantee that EU courts will follow the same principle, nor that EU courts will accept or recognise any judgments stemming from these cases.”
Toby Hales, a partner at Seddons, said that at present most private family law matters across EU states are dealt with under a convention called “Brussels II” which, he said, “whilst perhaps not perfect, at least provides a high level of certainty for divorcing couples and separated parents.
He went on to add: "The government confirms in its paper that Brussels II will come to an end and it is not planning to take any steps to negotiate an identical treaty or convention with any EU state. Instead, Mr Hales said, it has been proposed that the UK will fall back on the provisions of other international documents, particularly the 1980 and 1996 Hague Conventions.
However, Mr Hales warned that the devil is in the detail and “there are procedural and legal differences that could cause great difficulties, particularly in countries which already have inefficient legal systems, or ones that are not very friendly to foreign Court orders (and they do already exist within the EU).”
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