The post-Brexit fall-out has been noticeable by the number of 'unknowns' and 'what-ifs?'. We're not any clearer on what the UK will look like, nor how our European neighbours will see us after we leave the EU.

As a family practitioner, I have mixed feelings about Brexit. Firstly, Brexit and the uncertainty it has brought are likely to have had negative financial effects on many of my clients. Whether it is the cost of goods increasing, or the immediate negative impact upon the stock market and the subsequent effect on assets such as pensions - uncertainty hurts people financially.

Moreover, Brexit will require the UK to re-negotiate a myriad of existing arrangements with our EU neighbours. Currently, there is apprehension about, for example, maintenance arrangements, jurisdiction within divorce cases and the enforceability of orders relating to children within the EU. The current laws relating to these matters could, potentially, come to an end when the UK leaves.

That said, it is likely that the UK will either adopt existing EU laws relating to these issues as a block or will otherwise negotiate similar reciprocal agreements to those already in place. Despite this, we at Anthony Collins Solicitors are aware that if, for instance, you have the benefit of a UK order for maintenance or a child living in another EU country, it is still a worry as to what Brexit may mean for that order and ensuring that payments or your relationship continue.

Leaving the EU does, however, offer the UK a rare opportunity. Part of the problem many people felt with the UK being in the EU was that the laws enacted by the EU were “one size fits all”, and that the EU members, including the UK, became bound by laws that were not necessarily in the national interest of the individual countries. Brexit gives the UK the opportunity to free itself from perceived or actual EU bureaucracy, look at the EU laws that work, the laws that need redrafting, and most importantly, negotiate and enter into reciprocal arrangements with our neighbours that protect the UK.

The UK will then have the opportunity to look at our own laws and update many that are antiquated or out of step with modern life. Whether it be, for instance, the long-discussed no-fault divorce laws or simplifying financial settlement upon divorce, leaving the EU gives the UK the opportunity to enact legislation that reflects the changes in culture and relationships that the UK has seen in recent years.

So, in conclusion, whilst only uncertainty is certain, leaving the EU is unlikely to mean a fundamental change for UK Family Law, unless the UK Government uses Brexit as an opportunity to seize the day and fundamentally change legislation, and hopefully for the better.

Further information

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