So, 31 January has come and gone, and the EU Withdrawal Bill has now passed into law. If you thought this would put an end to all talks of messy divorce, think again.
Yes, the UK's decision to end our relationship with Europe and to instead embark on the separation process of Brexit has many implications for family law, not least – although most ironically – within the pertinent area of cross-border divorce.
‘If I had my way, I'd make A do X and B do Y…’ has long been a treatment proffered by layperson pundits across the land, whether discussing politics in the pub or the outcomes of legal proceedings during a dinner party.
However, a man from Kansas, USA, recently sought to convert this sort of sentiment into action when he asked a court to let him engage his ex-wife in sword-to-sword combat in order to resolve their embittered and long-standing divorce arguments.
London has long been the capital of so-called 'divorce tourism'. In most cases this is because women with cross-jurisdictional interests who are getting divorced from their husbands believe that the English and Welsh family law courts are likely to award them a more favourable financial settlement than in most other jurisdictions while also offering greater rights in relation to their children.
This background helps explain why during the summer of 2019, Princess Haya bint al-Hussein of Jordan made a number of applications before the High Court of England and Wales in relation to herself and her children. And now, Princess Haya has returned to the High Court for the latest hearing in the child law case relating to her children and her estranged husband, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai.
Divorce is at its worst when it becomes acrimonious, undermines feelings of security and has the ability to dominate and adversely affect the ongoing lives of those involved. As such, any area of family law which increases the potential for the above needs examining.
There's no denying it, divorce and separation creates a raft of consequences. With the breaking up of familiar relationships children immediately have their lives rearranged, as one parent, typically the father, leaves the family home.
When it comes to who cares for a child, the mother automatically has parental responsibility from birth. Fathers will have parental responsibility if they are either married to the child's mother or are named on the birth certificate. Having parental responsibility typically affords you the right to maintain a relationship with children (as long as there are no injunctions or prohibitive orders in place to prevent contact) and separating parents are encouraged to reach an amicable agreement for child arrangements. These could include living arrangements, visiting schedules and other factors such as religious upbringing, schooling and contact at sensitive times such as birthdays and major holidays such as Christmas, Easter and the school holidays. Of course, it's not always as easy as that, and the difficulties faced by many parents are well documented.