On 29 March 2019 at 11.00pm, the UK will leave the EU – this is known as our exit day. If there is no deal, EU law will no longer apply and we will need to rely on national and international law.
Divorce recognition in the EU
Under EU law, a divorce granted in England & Wales is automatically recognised in the EU. If you require your divorce to be formally recognised you will need to consider obtained a certificate alongside your decree absolute. This can be obtained by applying to the court that granted the decree absolute. Once this certificate is obtained it may need to be translated, legalized and then registered in the relevant EU country.
After exit day, some EU countries will continue to automatically recognize divorces from England & Wales, however there may be some difficulties with the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Romania, Slovenia and Spain. Unfortunately, the situation with these countries is not entirely clear at the moment.
Finalising your divorce
If you have on-going divorce proceedings in England & Wales which you would want recognized in an EU country these should be finalised urgently and for the divorce to be registered in the relevant EU country before exit day.
If you have a decree nisi in place, and decree absolute is scheduled to be applied for after exit day, you can consider an application to court to shorten the required time frame to apply for decree absolute.
If you are considering a divorce
If you are considering pursuing a divorce, urgent advice will be required to see if it is more beneficial to commence proceedings in England & Wales. Under current rules, a divorce proceeds in the EU country that commences proceedings first.
If there is no deal, after exit day, the rules become more complicated and it will likely be the case that the country with the closest connection will deal with proceedings when a divorce petition is issued. You will need to obtain independent advice to decide how to proceed - for example it may be in your interest to commence before exit day to ensure that proceedings are dealt with by our courts.
If you would like more information or advice about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of family law please contact our expert legal team on 0208 004 0065, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or using the form below.
The contents of this article is general information only. The information in this article is not legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should obtain independent expert advice from qualified solicitors such as those within our firm.