This guidance explains the changes to UK-EU cross-border divorce cases from 1 January 2021.
It is intended for people involved in family law disputes. If you are a legal professional, please refer to the guidance for legal professionals.
If you are currently or soon to be involved in a case that you think may be affected by this you should speak to a lawyer or Citizens Advice as soon as possible. You should also speak to a lawyer or Citizens Advice if your case involves an EU country and Scotland or Northern Ireland.
This guidance only relates to cases involving the courts of England and Wales. If you have a cross-border case relating to the courts in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you should seek advice on mygov.scot or nidirect.gov.uk.
Family law disputes from 1 January 2020
EU laws about family proceedings will no longer apply to the UK from 11pm on 31 December 2020.
This will affect rules on:
- the country that family law disputes are heard in
- how decisions made in one country will be recognised and enforced in another
This applies to cases in England and Wales about:
- matters relating to children (including on child abduction)
- child maintenance
New and ongoing divorce cases
If you apply for divorce in England and Wales or an EU country before 11pm on 31 December 2020, your divorce will continue under the current EU rules (even if the process is not finalised until after 11pm on 31 December 2020). When your divorce becomes final, it will be recognised in England and Wales or an EU country under the current EU rules.
If you apply for divorce in England and Wales or an EU country after 11pm on 31 December 2020 new rules will be in place. If you are applying in England & Wales you should apply in the same way.
If your divorce is granted in England and Wales or an EU country before 11pm on 31 December 2020, it will be recognised in England and Wales or an EU country under the current EU rules.
Getting your England & Wales divorce recognised in an EU country if you applied for it after 11pm on 31 December 2020 may also be affected. Getting your EU divorce recognised in England and Wales if you applied for it after this time it will also be subject to new rules.
Speak to a lawyer or Citizens Advice to get specific advice about your case and any action you need to take.
You may also wish to read guidance on:
- UK-EU cross-border maintenance disputes from 1 January 2021 (also on our blog)
- UK-EU cross-border disputes about parental responsibility from 1 January 2021(also on our blog)
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