After the surprise outcome of the EU referendum earlier this year, it is largely accepted that there will be a period of uncertainty for the UK until our departure from the EU takes effect and the terms of our relationship with the EU and the rest of the world are decided upon. This period of uncertainty applies to almost all UK sectors. The law of England and Wales, and in particular, Family Law is no exception.
The shock vote for the UK to exit the EU has unsurprisingly led to many being concerned about their futures, particularly if they are experiencing a marriage breakdown.
For those who will be reliant on their spouse paying maintenance to them following a divorce, they may be anxious as to whether they will be able to enforce an order for their spouse to pay maintenance if their spouse moves to an EU country.
Currently the EU provides a framework for contracting states to co-operate with one another in respect of enforcing orders for maintenance in one member-state which were made in another. If the UK does not ensure that a replacement framework is put in place, it could leave those in receipt of maintenance in a vulnerable position.
When dealing with the division of family assets, parties will undoubtedly be concerned as to the following: Whether the value of their/their spouse’s pension(s) will be affected? Will the value of their property reduce? Will they be able to afford to purchase a property independent of their spouse? These are all matters which would be considered by your solicitor when working with you through the divorce process.
The court will seek to meet the needs of both parties, and any children of the parties. Exactly how the court will seek to meet the needs of the parties and any children will depend on a number of factors, to include the level of assets held by the family. It is possible that house prices will be affected post-Brexit and it is also possible that the value of pensions, investments and savings may be affected, although at this stage it is not known exactly how the markets will react to the UK’s eventual departure from the EU.
What is known is that it is unlikely that the UK’s departure from the EU will be completed for at least 2 years. There is now a period during which there is unlikely to be any significant change to Family Law and the way in which a divorce will be handled as a direct result of Brexit.