Brexit, and all its potential ramifications for families, dominated public discourse in 2019 and for many months before that. Brexit then occurred on 31 January 2020, starting the 'standstill' transition period to allow for negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship. Yet COVID-19 dismissed these issues from every newsfeed with seeming ease.
The transition period will expire at the end of 2020 unless extended, and the window for such an extension closes at the end of today, 30 June. The UK Government has said it will not ask for an extension, and the EU has not requested one, so the transition period will end at 11pm (UK time) on 31 December. Our future relationship with the EU is yet to be fully formed. The Scottish Government introduced a Bill to the Scottish Parliament this month which would permit the use of secondary legislation to make Scots law compatible with EU law in devolved areas (which include family law).
While families debate whether or not it is safer to stay in the UK rather than to travel across an "air bridge " to Europe to enjoy longed for holidays , the impact of leaving the EU for others may yet be far reaching. For some families, the most compelling challenges are within their homes and the pressures of lockdown will have brought into sharp relief relationship difficulties. It is widely reported that levels of domestic abuse have risen during pandemic enforced isolation. And for separating couples, particularly those whose lives are lived across European boundaries, how their differences will be resolved will potentially be impacted in significant ways by Brexit.
Some of those impacts were explored in one of our earlier updates and to address those challenges seeking specialist separation and divorce advice at the earliest opportunity remains imperative.