Child Relocation

Can I Move With My Children After Divorce?

If you are considering relocating with your child, it is important to understand the legal process and what permissions you may need from the court. We discuss whether permission is needed to relocate, if yes, who can apply for this, whether the child’s other parent can prevent the mov

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We discuss whether permission is needed to relocate, if yes, who can apply for this, whether the child’s other parent can prevent the move, and what factors the court will take into consideration when making a decision.

Can I move with my child without the father’s or mother’s permission?

There is a difference in law between relocating within the UK and internationally after divorce. If you are the primary carer of your child, you do not technically need permission to relocate within the UK. With this in mind, practical considerations such as how you are going to be able to continue to facilitate contact between your child and the other parent need to be borne in mind. This is even more important when there is a Child Arrangements Order in force, given contact must continue to take place in accordance with the order.

If you are the parent who opposes an internal relocation, there are steps you can take. You should contact a solicitor as quickly as possible in these cases.

Permission to relocate abroad with a child

The issue of international relocation is different. If you are seeking to relocate with your child outside of England and Wales, you must obtain permission to relocate abroad with a child from any other person with parental responsibility for the child (in a lot of cases the child’s other parent) and or the Court. If the other parent consents to the move, it is good practice to consult a solicitor to ensure this is properly recorded. If you do not obtain permission in accordance with the above, you could be abducting your child. This is a criminal offence.

What things do I have to consider if I wish to relocate with my child?

If you are considering relocating, it is a good idea to carefully consider the impact the relocation will likely have on the relationship between your child and your ex-partner. Consider the following:

  • How far away are you moving?
  • Will the left-behind parent still be able to see the child? How easy will this be?
  • Will it be expensive for the left-behind parent to visit the child? For example, will they need to purchase international flights?
  • What else can you do to ensure the child maintains a meaningful relationship with the parent left behind? For example, what sort of indirect contact, such as video contact, can occur?
  • What are the new proposed living and educational arrangements for the child?
  • If the children are old enough, what are their wishes?
  • Will the child be able to see the left-behind parent during school holidays, and are you willing to let them travel (or travel with them) to make this happen?
  • What will be the financial impact for both parents?

Ideally, you will be able to agree on a workable arrangement with your ex that allows the relocation to go ahead while ensuring the left-behind parent can still have plenty of meaningful time with your child.

Do I have a say in where my child lives?

Your rights depend on whether you have parental responsibility for your child.

Mothers automatically have parental responsibility.

A father usually has parental responsibility if he’s either:

  • married to the child’s mother
  • listed on the birth certificate (after a certain date, depending on which part of the UK the child was born in)

If the parents of a child are married when the child is born, or if they’ve jointly adopted a child, both have parental responsibility.

The above is not an exhaustive list.

As someone with parental responsibility, you have a say in where your child lives.

How does the court decide about a child relocation?

Child relocation cases can be challenging as any decision will fundamentally impact the child’s life. The court would need to consider the case’s specific facts carefully and whether the proposed move is in the child’s best interests. Factors that the court will take into account include:

  • The age and sex of the child
  • The child’s emotional and educational needs
  • The wishes of the child
  • Whether the child is socially connected to their current area
  • What effect the change will have on the child
  • The reasons why the parent wishes to move

The courts will look to see if the relocating parent has a well-thought-out plan that considers all the child’s needs. They will also consider the left-behind parents’ objections and how any move will impact the child’s relationship with both parents.

Every family is different, and the courts will look at the individual circumstances of your case.

It is preferable to try and reach a sensible fair agreement out of court. This will not only save you in time and costs but can also mean you have more control over what additional monies are spent on. You may even agree to pay directly for some of your children’s activities and expenses such as private school fees. We can advise you on a realistic level of maintenance in light of your situation.

Can the court refuse permission for a relocation?

The court will make a decision in the best interests of the child. The Court has overall discretion and can grant and or refuse an application for permission to relocate.

How to win a relocation case

You should consult a family solicitor as your first step. Assuming you have parental responsibility, there are certain things you can do to try and prevent the relocation. For example, your solicitor could:

  • Try to reach a pragmatic solution with your ex-partner outside the court arena
  • Apply for a Prohibited Steps Order to stop the child moving away
  • Apply for a Child Arrangements Order, or an order to amend an existing Child Arrangements Order, in respect of where the child will live.

When one parent wishes to relocate with the children and the other does not agree, there are only two options: the child can go or stay. This is a difficult situation for everyone, and it’s easy to fall into a combative mindset where one parent ‘wins’ and the other ‘loses’. It is important to remember that following this, both parents need to continue to co-parent, irrespective of the outcome.

At Osbornes, we help families break through this deadlock. Our experienced family law team will be able to guide you in terms of the appropriate strategy to adopt to achieve your goals.

Find out more about our other children law services:

Speak to a Child Relocation Lawyer

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

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