Moving or relocating with children
It is not uncommon for one parent to wish to relocate with the children.
- A mother from Australia may wish to return to her homeland with the children following marriage breakdown.
- A father may wish to move from Scotland to England with the children.
Where the other parent does not agree to the removal then it is necessary to seek permission from the Court before the child can be removed from the country in which he or she currently lives. The Courts across the UK recognise that the welfare of the child is paramount in these cases. In other words, is it in the best interests of the child that such permission be granted? When deciding what is in the best interests of the child, the Court will consider various factors including:
- The views of the child, where ascertainable.
- The reasonableness of the proposals of the person moving abroad.
A court will consider all the factors of the proposal – schooling and living arrangements, health issues, financial viability of the move, employment prospects for the parent, existence of extended family, etc.
- The effect upon the applicant parent of the refusal of permission.
A child requires stability and this can be best achieved if the life of the parent who the child lives with is also stable. Refusing to allow a parent to relocate with their child could effectively prevent them from living their life in the way they wish. This could have a detrimental effect on that parent by forcing them to stay in a place where they are unhappy and have limited prospects.
- The opportunity for continuing contact between the child and parent left behind.
The court will consider how arrangements can be put in place for continuing contact. Sadly, in cases where one party wishes to remove a child to relocate to the other side of the world contact with the other party (and extended family) can be reduced to virtually nil.
- The effect upon the child of the denial of contact with the non resident parent which may result if removal is allowed.
In cases where the child has a good relationship with both parents, it is generally recognised that it is in the best interests of the child to continue contact with both parents if possible.
- The motivation behind the move.
It should not be an attempt to deprive the other parent of contact.
No two cases are ever the same, and whilst the principal consideration is always the welfare of the child, the whole circumstances of each case will have to be considered by the Court.