A rather unique divorce case was heard in the Court of Appeal on Tuesday this week, fittingly on Valentine’s Day. Mrs Tini Owens brought an appeal against an earlier ruling which stated that she could not divorce her husband of 39 years.
As of this month legislation has come into force in the Isle of Man which allows heterosexual couples to form civil partnerships. Although the Isle of Man is a crown dependency separate from the UK, it remains closely tied to the UK. The new legislation in the Isle of Man is likely to create renewed pressure in the UK for straight couples to have the same rights, and to be able to enter into civil partnerships as an alternative to marriage.
The Justice Select Committee has this week urged the Ministry of Justice to rescind the increase in divorce petition court fees from £410 to £550 which came into effect in March, earlier this year. The increase largely went under the radar as it was brought in with very short notice and was somewhat overshadowed by substantial increases in civil Court fees which had come into effect shortly beforehand.
The case of Wyatt v Vince has very recently concluded after almost five years of litigation in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. The case is a very important family law case as it sets out the position for ex-spouses applying for a financial remedy many years after the original divorce proceedings have concluded.
Nicola Mitchell, Director and Head of the family department here at QSKP has been considering, along with her team, the possible effects of ‘Brexit’ on the legal system, specifically from a family lawyer’s perspective. She’s provided a ‘snapshot’ of their thoughts below.
Divorces between English and Welsh nationals residing in the UK are unlikely to be affected by Brexit. However where there are jurisdictional issues (i.e one or both parties residing outside the UK), Brexit could bring about an end to the ‘rush to Court’ phenomenon which is currently governed by EU Regulation. Rush to Court is exactly as it sounds: one party tries to seek to issue their application first, generally in England or Wales, due to the fact that the Courts here are regarded as one of the most generous in Europe. It is highly likely that the rush to Court would change if we left the EU, although unless you’re the spouse of a non-British-domiciled billionaire, it’s unlikely to affect you. If Brexit happens then we will simply have to wait and see whether London continues to be the ‘international divorce capital’ of the world.