A lack of progress in Brexit negotiations “could leave tens of thousands of families and children in limbo”, according to family charity Resolution.
Its report, co-published with the Family Law Bar Association and the International Academy of Family Lawyers, looks at the impact of Brexit on family law following the UK’s exit from the EU.
Under current conditions, the legal agreements between the UK and other EU member states have long bought vital assurances to families across borders.
These assurances ensure that orders made in one country can be enforced in another, the report explains.
It argues that this system must be replicated after Britain has withdrawn from the EU, in order to provide “safeguards and reassurance” to those families and children affected by cross-border divorce, separation, and child protection cases.
Resolution found that there are approximately 140,000 international divorces and 1,800 cases of child abduction within the EU each year.
Daniel Eames, who chairs Resolution’s International Committee, said: “Families needing to go to court must know that whatever court they end up in, in whatever country, that decision will be respected by other courts.
“EU instruments which affect UK family law deal primarily with procedural rather than substantive family law – sovereignty is not the issue here – but they require full reciprocity to work.
“Without reciprocity there is a risk of a ‘one way street’ – the UK would continue to apply EU family law and be obliged unilaterally to recognise and enforce decisions of other EU member states – whereas EU member states would not be obliged to recognise and enforce our decisions.
“This is a crucial issue for tens thousands of families in the UK, and the rest of the EU. If unresolved, these families could be left in limbo.
“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.”
The report, Brexit and Family Law, can be found here.