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Brexit implications for family law analysed in panel discussion at European Parliament

Date:18 MAY 2018
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Four family law experts took part in a panel discussion at the European Parliament yesterday to discuss the implications for family law of the UK leaving the EU.

Daniel Eames of Clarke Willmott, David Hodson OBE of IFLG, Rachael Kelsey of SKO Family Law Specialists and Tim Scott QC of 29 Bedford Row were invited by Catherine Bearder MEP and the UK Law Societies’ Joint Brussels Office to engage with MEPs and Permanent Representatives from the EU member states.

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The discussion covered a range of issues, including the implications of Brexit for cross-border divorce and child protection cases, the need for the EU to engage with the relevant Hague Conventions in the future and the importance of maintaining reciprocal legal agreements after Brexit.

Speaking after the debate, Daniel Eames, who is chair of the international committee of Resolution, said:

‘This is a crucial issue for tens thousands of families in the UK, and the rest of the EU. Brexit is going to have a huge effect on family law, especially for those families where parents are of different EU nationalities.

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.

Without reciprocity there is going to be delay, uncertainty and greater legal costs for separating families across the EU. Therefore it is vital that the UK government and the EU set out very clearly their commitment to finding a way to achieve the continuation of the reciprocal arrangements and how they intend to do this.  At the moment, nothing has been done to address this situation.’

Commenting on the event, David Hodson said:

‘I want to increases awareness by national and EU law makers to the particular needs and issues of international families and their children. When it comes to Brexit and Family Law, there are many real difficulties and disadvantages in practice flowing from EU laws. But equally there are a number of benefits. The challenge is to retain reciprocal recognition and enforcement whilst not continuing to be subject to EU laws, policies, agendas and the European Court.’