Cross-Border Families in Post-Brexit Britain
With Brexit negotiations ongoing and the details of any potential deal yet to emerge, the legal industry enters a period of relative uncertainty. Our impending departure from the European Union brings the need for great change in existing policies and procedures. The potential effects of this on Family Law are endless. One of the many that merits consideration is the issue of child abduction.
The exponential advancements in technology have made the world a smaller place. Air fares have become more affordable and other countries have become more accessible. Accordingly, people are spending more time abroad. Given this, the likelihood of meeting someone from another country and starting a family with them has increased. Such a family living in the UK have a potential dilemma to consider.
If one parent – Dominic – is a British citizen and the other – Isabella – is originally from another EU Member State, the issue of child custody on breakup becomes more complex. If a UK court awarded custody of their daughter to Dominic, Isabella becomes much more limited in her options. She might feel trapped in the UK, no longer able to rely on her freedom of movement. She might be reluctant to return home, given the potential complexity of enforcing cross-jurisdictional parental rights.
If Isabella breached the custody order and returned to her home country with the child, or failed to return her after an overseas visit, the previous position was that the UK custody ruling would be honoured and Member States would co-operate to ensure the safe return of the child to their ordinary domicile. Post-Brexit, there is no longer any guarantee that this will be the case. The logistics of the child’s return are unclear as we do not know how much respect will be afforded to our domestic judgments by our former fellow Member States.
This is a period of horrifying uncertainty for families like these. One can only hope that the emergence of a deal will alleviate concerns and not muddy the waters even further.
This blog was written by Declan Grimason, LLB (Hons), currently studying the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice.
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