UK-EU cross-border maintenance disputes

Published 12 January 2021

Applies to England and Wales

This guidance explains the changes to UK-EU cross-border maintenance disputes from 1 January 2021.

It is intended for people involved in family law disputes. If you are a legal professional, please refer to the guidance for legal professionals.

If you are currently or soon to be involved in a case that you think may be affected by this you should speak to a lawyer or Citizens Advice as soon as possible. You should also speak to a lawyer or Citizens Advice if your case involves an EU country and Scotland or Northern Ireland.

This guidance only relates to cases involving the courts of England and Wales. If you have a cross-border case relating to the courts in Scotland or Northern Ireland, you should seek advice on or

Family law disputes from 1 January 2021

EU laws about family proceedings no longer apply to the UK from 11pm on 31 December 2020.

This affects rules on:

  • the country that family law disputes are heard in
  • how decisions made in one country are recognised and enforced in another

This applies to cases in England and Wales for:

  • divorce
  • matters relating to children (including on child abduction)
  • maintenance

New Cases

If you make new or further applications after 11pm on 31 December 2020, your application will need to be made under a different process.

However, you should still contact your nearest Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre (MEBC) for assistance with the enforcement of maintenance decisions.

Ongoing cases

If you have an ongoing case about maintenance payments for a child or spouse/registered partner in England, Wales or an EU country as at 11pm on 31 December 2020 your case will continue unchanged.

Visit the Child maintenance if one parent lives abroad page to learn more about what you need to do.

Enforcing decisions

If you have a child maintenance decision, which you want to have recognised and enforced in an EU country from 1 January 2021, contact your nearest Maintenance Enforcement Business Centre (MEBC) as soon as possible.

If your maintenance case was resolved and has been recognised by the relevant court in an EU country before 11pm on 31 December 2020, you should not be affected.

Speak to a local lawyer for specific advice if possible.

Cases where all parties are in the UK

The Child Maintenance Service applies to cases where the paying parent, the receiving parent and the child are all in the UK– this will not change.

You may also wish to read guidance on: