Could EU Referendum Result Prompt An Increase In Divorce Cases?

Experts Say Uncertainty Over Law Changes Could Mean Spouses Rush To Divorce Before Brexit


Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

A leading divorce lawyer says the result of the EU Referendum could cause an unexpected spike in divorce cases, as spouses confused over potential legal reforms rush to instruct lawyers before Britain exits the EU.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth are also warning that the uncertainty in the markets could cause issues for couples already trying to agree their divorce settlements as it potentially becomes harder to sell high value properties to create liquid assets that can be split between the parties.

The comments come as it was revealed Singapore’s third-biggest lender has suspended new loans for the purchase of London properties following the Brexit announcement – which could also have an impact on individuals divorcing and wishing to buy their spouse out of a martial home.

Alison Hawes, an expert family and divorce lawyer at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth, explained that it was likely more people would bring divorce proceedings forward, for fear of legal reform surrounding Brexit from affecting their rights.

Expert Opinion
The current position under EU law is that where there is the possibility that divorce proceedings could be issued in more than one EU country, the country which is first seised will have jurisdiction. This essentially means that there may be a race between divorcing husbands and wives seeking to ensure that the proceedings are heard in the country whose laws are most beneficial to them.

We do not know what the rules will be after the UK leaves the EU and this uncertainty may cause people to seek to secure the jurisdiction of their choice now rather than waiting to find out what will happen. That might mean an increase in instructions.

So far our enquiries have been from people wanting to know if their passports and their children’s passports remain current. There has also been concern expressed by my businessmen clients that banks will be less happy to lend, the weak pound and the political uncertainty will lead to an economic slump and a possible depression on property prices.

All those things make divorce and financial settlements that much harder because there is less liquid and less money to go round. If banks won’t lend, people can’t always make a fresh start, as we saw painfully in 2008 and 2009.

Alison Hawes, Partner