An important decision was announced yesterday by Sir Oliver
Heald, the justice minister in the British government, it has been
decided that it is in the UK's best interests to accept and opt
into a proposal made by the European Commission to repeal and
update the legal mechanism, known as the Brussels 11A regulation,
which assists separating and divorcing couples settle disputes
relating to both the custody of their children and their divorce
when more than one country is involved.
Sir Oliver said that opting into the new proposal is the best
choice for the UK, regardless of Brexit, as complex cross-border
family law disputes affect UK citizens and should the Brussels 11A
regulation be repealed prior to the UK's exit and the UK had
failed to opt in, the UK could be in the position of having no EU
instrument regulating such matters, regardless of the fact that the
UK was still an EU member, as the previous regulation would be most
likely to be considered inoperable. Clearly failure to
opt in could result in children's rights could be compromised
and may affect their capacity to maintain contact with both parents
if they live in different EU countries which is one of the main
tenets of the existing regulations.
The new proposals aim to make it easier for judgments to be
recognised and enforced in other member states, to create a more
efficient system relating to child abduction proceedings and to
provide clarity, as far as deadlines are concerned, for a number of
procedures. Importantly, the proposed new regulations removes
the potential for a court to refuse to enforce a judgment on the
basis that it would have applied different national rules as to
whether a child should or should not have been heard in the
Sir Oliver also said that the government has every intention of
making sure that the new regulations do not impose additional
burdens on the courts and authorities that have to use the new
regulation and aims to limit any impact on domestic law.
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