Child Relocation & Disputes: Child Custody Law & Relocation (UK & International Relocation matters)
There are many reasons why you might want to relocate to another country; it may be to be closer to family, a new job or for a new relationship. You may be have plans to move away temporarily, for example if you have a fixed term job contract, or the move may be permanent. If you are planning on moving out of the country with your child or children, please contact one of our family solicitors for expert advice.
The law on international relocation with children is clear. Taking a child out of the country without the express consent of each person with Parental Responsibility or permission of the Court is prohibited. The only exception to this is if there is a court order in place setting out who a child is to live with. In these circumstances the parent with whom the child lives can take the child out of the country, without the consent of the other parent, but only for up to 28 days.
If you think your former partner may be planning on taking your child out of the country without your consent and without the court’s permission then this is viewed by the law as child abduction.
If you are planning on moving away from England and your former partner is refusing to provide his consent then you could consider making an application to court.
When deciding whether to give you permission the court’s primary focus will be the welfare of the child or children. As with other applications involving arrangements for children, the court must consider the following:
- The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of their age and understanding).
- The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs.
- The likely effect on the child of any change in his circumstances.
- The child’s age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant.
- Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering.
- How capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting the child’s needs.
The key issues often focus around how the child will maintain a relationship with the other parent and wider family so consideration will need to be given to how often it will be possible for the child to return back to England or the other parent travel to visit.
The court also has to consider the motivations of the parent wanting to leave the jurisdiction and how well thought out their plans are. For example, do they know how they are going to meet their housing, financial and educational needs.
The court will also be wanting to reflect on whether the child has expressed any views (depending on their age and understanding) and the impact on the child of moving away from their home, school and friends. The country that they are proposing to move to is also relevant as it will dictate how practical and financially viable it will be to return regularly as well as any safety concerns around the country that they are wanting to relocate to.
The court will also take on board the impact it would have on the parent wanting to relocate, and therefore the child, if their application was refused. In one of the leading court cases on this issue, Payne v Payne, the potential distress to the mother (who was the child’s primary carer) of refusing the application was considered likely to have a negative impact on the child so they were given permission to relocate.
Each case is, of course, different and the outcome will depend on the facts of the case and the discretion of the court.
Speak to one of our family solicitors in Leeds, Sheffield or York to arrange an initial consultation.