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What you need to know: Brexit and family law finances

The burning question for clients may well be how Brexit and family law finances effect the outcome of their divorce settlements. It’s been just over a week since the UK voted to leave the European Union (Brexit). With all the main political parties now in chaos (it was only moments ago, as we write this, that Nigel Farage announced he was standing down as the leader of UKIP), how will the UK’s decision to leave the EU impact upon family law finances?

The short answer is: no-one knows the relationship between Brexit and family law finances – yet. Until the UK starts formal negotiations with the EU following Brexit, it’s difficult to predict what the exit terms will look like. And, although we can speculate, we simply don’t know what will happen to the different areas of EU law that the UK currently uses on a daily basis to decide finances in divorce proceedings.

There is a great deal of uncertainty about what will happen to family law as a whole. Nigel Shepherd, chair of family law organisation Resolution, said:

“It’s too early to know the full implications for family law, but what is clear is that we are entering a period of great uncertainty. Like most areas of legislation, family law in the UK is currently intrinsically linked to that in other jurisdictions.”

England is often hailed as the divorce capital of the world and has a reputation as a country that’s generous to anyone making any kind of assets or maintenance claims in divorce proceedings.

Brexit and family law finances

Many high net worth individuals have assets and investments in various different European countries – and there are rules that have come from Europe about where people can divorce. For example, under European law, it could be that a couple could get divorced in either England or France. The outcome of their financial settlement could vary hugely, depending where the divorce actually goes through. Wherever the proceedings are issued is the country that gets to decide on the divorce settlement – which is why it’s very important to get legal advice, sometimes even before you have told your spouse you’re thinking about a divorce, as your financial settlement could be a lot less in one country than another.

Currently, because the UK is part of the EU, a maintenance order from any EU country can be enforced in England (or indeed any other EU country) without any further court cases. When the UK leaves the EU, this could change, and further court cases could be necessary.

It’s also currently possible to specify in your pre-nup which country in Europe you would like any maintenance claims to be dealt with by – and it doesn’t have to be in the country your divorce is going through in.

Again, when the UK leaves the EU, the freedom to do this may be reduced.

There is no doubt that this is a time of great uncertainty when considering the question of Brexit and family law finances – what will happen to the rules and others, and the impact that this will have on the UK and its divorce law, still remains to be seen.

Having said this, it is very unlikely that anything will change in the immediate future. If you’re a high net worth individual with international assets and investments it’s very important to get specialist legal advice as soon as possible.

 

Brexit and Family Law Finances – Contact us to see how we can help you

For more information on your options on Brexit and family law finances call our team on 0845 862 5001 or email mail@austinkemp.co.uk.

We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in London WC2N 4JF and Manchester M2 4PD. Please contact us for more details.

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04th July 2016

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