Can I move country with my child?

Upon separation, it may be one parent’s intention to relocate to another country, relocate within the UK.

However, this will not be an easy task when the other parent is being left behind and there is a possibility, they will not be seeing their child as often as they are used to. How then can you proceed with relocating?

  • 1. Firstly, you must ask permission of the other parent before moving away, even if you want to move elsewhere in the UK. If you move to another jurisdiction without obtaining the other parents’ permission, you would be at risk of being presented with child abduction proceedings. If the other parent is happy and agreeable to the relocation, then you should record their agreement in a parenting plan so agreement can be evidenced. It is important that you obtain legal advice in the preparation of that parenting plan to ensure it has as much weight as possible in any potential court proceedings.
  • 2. If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, then you can make an application to the Court for leave to remove under the Children Act 1989. A Judge will then determine, based on a variety of factors whether or not to grant the application for leave to remove. As in any proceedings regarding children, their best interest will be paramount in the court’s decision. One of the most influential factors for the Judge will be the pre-existing care arrangements and how often the child spends time with that parent being left behind. Other factors the court will consider include:
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  • a) The level of contact arrangements the applicant is offering to the parent being left behind. This is important so that the applicant can show they are aware of the importance of the child’s relationship with both parents, and they are actively trying to support and strengthen this relationship.
  • b) The implementation of the arrangements in practice – can these arrangements be realistically achieved depending on which country the applicant is seeking to relocate to? If the relocation is internal (so within the UK), then this will be easier to prove.
  • c) What is the motivation of the parent seeking to relocate? The Judge will want to be satisfied it is in the best interests of the child and the relocation will have a positive impact on them. As well as this, is the parent relocating pursing the application for selfish reasons or as an attempt to destroy the child’s relationship with the left behind parent.

The above factors are not an exhaustive list but are an example of some of the things the Court will consider when being presented with an application for relocation. The ultimate consideration will be whether the proposed relocation is in the child’s best interest.

It may be the case that you already have a lives with order in your favour, however this only means that you can take the child out of the UK on holiday for a maximum of 28 days as long as it does not interfere with the arrangements to spend time with the other parent. You will still need either the permission of the other party to relocate or a court order in place permitting the relocation.

It is therefore important that you do not unilaterally move to another country with your child. A great deal of preparation will be needed prior to any proceedings being commenced, and we will be able to assist in giving you some guidance as to what steps to take from the outset.

For any enquiries into children matters please contact a member of the family team on 020 8290 0333 or email info@judge-priestley.co.uk.

Written By : Megan Porter (Paralegal)