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Resolution voices concerns over impact of sluggish Brexit negotiations on cross-border family disputes

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Family law foundation Resolution has warned that sluggish negotiations regarding Britain’s departure from the European Union (EU) could have a detrimental impact on separating families, as well as individuals caught up in cross-border divorces or disputes.

Resolution is reminding negotiators that existing reciprocal agreements between the UK and the EU bring “vital assurances to families across Europe” – which it says “must be maintained” after Brexit.

Alongside the International Academy of Family Lawyers, the organisation is warning in a new report that families and their children involved in cross-border EU-UK family or child protection cases could be at risk of losing such reciprocity if family law is not immediately addressed by Brexit negotiators.

The report says that a “lack of progress” in negotiations so far has already left “tens of thousands of families and children in limbo.”

Highlighting the scale of the issue going forward, Resolution estimates that there are approximately 140,000 international divorces within the EU each year – including 1,800 cases of child abduction and various other serious matters.

The existing agreements between EU member states and the UK provide safeguards for families and children facing difficult circumstances.

For example, orders made in one country can be enforced in another, and there is a certain harmony between nations in terms of the rules governing ‘where’ each particular case can be heard when it comes to cross-border matters.

Daniel Eames, Chair of Resolution’s International Committee, said: “Our concern is that family law will go unnoticed among all the talk of trade deals, immigration and internal party politics.

“It may not top the Government’s priorities for Brexit, but the impact of inaction would be felt by families and their children for many years to come,” he said.

“Families needing to go to court must know that whatever court they end up in, in whatever country, that decision will be respected by other courts.

“Without [this] reciprocity there is a risk of a ‘one-way street’ – the UK would continue to apply EU family law and be obliged unilaterally to recognise and enforce decisions of other EU member states – whereas EU member states would not be obliged to recognise and enforce our decisions.”

Resolution’s full report can be accessed here.

MFG Solicitors’ family team can advise on divorce, separation and related financial disputes, as well as all other aspects of family law. For more information about how we could help you, please contact us.