On 31 January 2020, the UK ceased to be a member state of the EU, and since then has not participated in EU decision-making processes or the work of EU institutions. The transition period provided for in the Brexit withdrawal agreement ends on 31 December 2020. Until then, all EU rules (with some exceptions not related to family law) still apply to the UK, as they do to EU member states. But how will divorce, maintenance, child and parental authority issues look from the start of 2021?
The set of parties who can benefit from inheritance and gift tax exemptions will expand. The exemption will now apply to persons who are or have been in a foster family, a family-style children’s home, a care and educational institution, or a regional care and therapeutic institution, as well as persons forming a foster family, running a family-style children’s home, or working with children in a care and educational institution or a regional care and therapeutic institution.
What law governs the marital property of a Polish wife and British husband who were married in the UK and then moved to Poland? What law governs the marital property of a Polish/French couple residing in Spain but holding real estate in Poland and France? Will a choice of law by a Polish/Swedish married couple to govern their marital property be recognised by an English court? These and other questions are answered by conflict-of-law regulations, knowledge of which is the point of departure for analysis of property relations between spouses.
It is said that familiarity breeds contempt. This old English proverb seems to be confirmed in China, where there has been an unprecedented increase in the number of divorce petitions following the opening of courts after several weeks of quarantine. While at the moment it is difficult to speak of a similar trend in Europe, the number of divorces is steadily increasing, and family law regulations are hardly keeping up with the needs of parents and children on the move. Some parents go abroad with their children, deliberately trying to bypass laws of a given jurisdiction. Others simply return with a child to their country of origin, unaware of the legal consequences of their actions. This situation, called parental abduction, constitutes a global and growing problem.
A minor may become an heir either by will or by law. Often the appointment to an inheritance results from earlier waiver by the parents (due to debts of the estate or a desire to pass on the inheritance to further heirs). However, a seemingly simple succession becomes complicated if a minor heir does not live in Poland.
Many of us spend part of our lives abroad. Some migrate permanently but maintain strong ties with their country of origin. Some share their life between several countries, becoming citizens of the world with several passports, holding voting rights and real estate on different continents. For such people, a divorce may have global implications. For spouses with significant assets, the division of property is a real challenge. But while money is divisible, children are not. The determination or choice of the appropriate jurisdiction may prove crucial for proper safeguarding of litigants’ interests.