4 Questions Frequently Asked About Relocating with Children

Can I relocate abroad with my children without the other parent’s consent?

If the other parent has parental responsibility (“PR”) for your children, you will need their written consent to relocate abroad.

Mothers automatically have PR for their children from their birth.

For fathers, they obtain PR in the following ways:

  1. Being married to the mother at the time of the child’s birth;
  2. By being named on the birth certificate for children born after 1 December 2003;
  3. If there is a parental responsibility agreement with the mother of the children; or
  4. If there is a parental responsibility order made by the court.

If the other parent does not consent to the relocation, you will be required to apply to the court for a Specific Issue Order before taking any steps to move somewhere. The court will decide as part of that application whether the children should relocate abroad with you, and you would usually at the same time apply to the court for a Child Arrangements Order for the court to decide the arrangements for the children to spend time with the other parent should they grant permission for you to relocate.

Is the procedure different if I am moving somewhere else within England and Wales?

If you are relocating to a place that could affect the current arrangements for your children spending time with the other parent, or you live in England or Wales and are relocating to Scotland, you will still need to apply to the court for a Specific Issue Order and Child Arrangements Order for the court to determine whether this is in your children’s best interests.

How will the court make its decision?

The court will consider whether it is in your children’s best interests to relocate with you, away from the other parent, based on the welfare checklist, which is set out in Section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989. This includes:

  1. the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of their age and understanding);
  2. their physical, emotional and educational needs;
  3. the likely effect on the child of any change in their circumstances;
  4. their age, sex, background and any characteristics which the court considers relevant;
  5. any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
  6. how capable each of the child’s parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting their needs;
  7. the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

The welfare of the children will always be the paramount consideration of the court.

What evidence will I need?

You will need to provide evidence to the court in the form of a witness statement to demonstrate that it is in the children’s best interests to relocate with you. You will need to show that you have considered your proposed plan in detail and provide evidence, for example:

  1. Where you intend to live;
  2. Suitable schools nearby to where you intend to live;
  3. The support network you will have such as friends and family who can support you with childcare if needed if you were to relocate;
  4. Where you plan to work;
  5. The proposed arrangements for contact between your children and the other parent;
  6. Journey times for the other parent travelling to spend time with your children or to collect them for contact; and
  7. Proposed flight or train times and costs, where travel cannot realistically take place via road.

Relocation cases are often intricate and challenging legal matters that courts must handle. It is essential to seek expert guidance early on to increase the chances of a positive outcome.

Thursfields team of knowledgeable family lawyers can provide assistance with relocation cases. If you require support with a relocation issue, reach out to our family law team at 0345 20 73 728 or via email at info@thursfields.com.

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