House of Lords report raises concerns about family law in post-Brexit Britain

    The House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee this week published its report on post-Brexit cooperation between EU law and civil and family law in the UK.

    The report, published on Monday, raises concerns that there are as yet no coherent plans to replace this regulation that is crucial for the enforcement of family law judgments across Europe, without which important decisions about marriage, divorce and child custody could not extend beyond borders.

    EU Regulations ensure that legal remedies can be recognised and enforced throughout the EU and provide clarity on questions of jurisdiction, guiding where legal disputes should be pursued.

    The report, Brexit: justice for families, individuals and businesses? looks into what will happen when EU regulations which govern this cooperation will be scrapped in the UK.

    Two key pieces of EU legislation affect family law.

    Brussels II Revised sets out the system for establishing jurisdiction in relation to divorce, judicial separation and marriage.

    The EU Maintenance Regulation establishes similar rules on jurisdiction and enforcement in matters relating to maintenance obligations.

    The UK will also no longer be in the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

    The report calls for a coherent plan for securing alternative arrangements prior to the UK’s exit from the EU.

    The committee is particularly concerned about what the loss of these provisions could mean for preventing child abduction by family members.

    As part of the process of Theresa May’s Great Repeal Bill, the Government plans to transfer existing EU laws over to English law, where they can later be dropped or amended.

    However there is no way for these cross-jurisdictional regulations to be replicated in English law. If the safeguards of family and civil law are to be protected, it is imperative that the Government makes alternative arrangements before withdrawing from these crucial regulations.