Moving abroad with children

Location, Location & Relocation

Our award winning team analyse the current status of the law in respect of moving abroad with children. The courts are seeing more and more applications by parents who want to leave England and relocate to another country.

The current law provides that in order to move abroad all the people with parental responsibility for that child have to agree. This is generally both parents. If the parents can not agree then an application has to be made to the court for a judge to decide whether the child should stay in England or move abroad.

The decision will be made with the child’s welfare as the paramount consideration.

The Court of Appeal has recently given judgement again on this issue in the case of Re F(Child). This case was a little unusual in that both parents were Spanish and had moved to England temporarily for father’s job with their son.

Initially the stay was to be for 2 years but had been extended. The parent’s relationship failed and the mother returned to Spain leaving the child in England but she immediately made an application to the Spanish Courts for his return. The Father had made an application to the English courts for an order that his son remain in England with him just slightly ahead of the mother’s application in Spain. The issue was decided by the English Courts and the child was returned to Spain to live with his mother. Primary factors influencing the decision were:

  • The child and both parents were Spanish.
  • The father would be returning to live in Spain in the future.
  • All of the child’s wider family were in Spain.
  • The mother had been the main carer for the child since his birth.

The father appealed the Judges decision however the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal. In this recent case the courts emphasised again the need for a Judge to consider how realistic proposals are to move and the best interest of the child in all cases for international relocation. Previous cases have set out some guidance as to how to consider an application to relocate and the court once more endorsed this guidance:

  • The application should be genuine and not an attempt to exclude a parent from a child’s life.
  • The proposal must be realistic. It helps to be well researched with plans as to accommodation, schooling, support networks and other practical arrangements. Also the ease of arrangements for contact once abroad can be a significant factor. This will include both visits and indirect contact such as email, telephone and skype.
  • If there are any good reasons for the opposition to the move.
  • What effect refusal of the move would have on the parent who wishes to leave the country, should the move be refused.
  • What would be best for the child.

Please contact our specialist family law team, to discuss this issue, or any other issue of family law or relationship breakdown.

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