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Can I move abroad with my child?

For separated parents the relocation of a child from the relationship to another country can be a difficult issue. In most of these cases it is the parent with residence, or care of the child, who will be the party who proposes the move. Invariably the non resident parent, that is the parent who does not live with the child, will feel a sense of loss. 

<span line-height:1.6em"="">Success in these matters is often a result of good preparation by the proposing parent. Detailed research of the place of relocation and the opportunities available to the child is essential. Where will the child live, what is the local community like and will this provide for the child as is appropriate? Also key is knowledge of local schools and admissions procedure. It may be necessary to go so far as producing evidence that admission to a satisfactory school would be offered.  

The reason for the move will also be relevant.

  • Has the parent with care entered into a new relationship and proposes the relocation to cohabit with his or her new partner?
  • If so how long has that relationship been enduring?
  • Are there any risks linked to the new partner or, indeed, the proposed place of relocation? Clearly a short term relationship or a partner who may pose a risk are unlikely to be persuasive.

Of most importance maybe the proposing parent’s attitude to and suggestions for the future of contact. Clearly, the greater the distance the more infrequent future visits are likely to be. Practical and convincing terms must be offered to facilitate contact on both a direct and indirect basis. For example longer periods spent with the non resident parent during academic breaks and a commitment to regular media based contact such as FaceTime or Skype.

And what of the child? There is no starting age at which a child is recognised as being mature enough to comment or decide on these issues. Each case will be considered on its own facts and the individual child. Usually the older the child, the more weight will be placed on their wishes and feelings. It may be that the child needs to be interviewed in contested proceedings, a task usually undertaken by CAFCASS.

Notice of any intended move must be served on the non resident parent. If a consensual agreement cannot be reached there are legal remedies open to both parties under the Children Act 1989. 

For the parent with whom the child lives an application for a Specific Issue Order may be needed where he or she feels that consent is being unreasonably withheld. This application enables the proposing parent to invite the court to make an order permitting the move if satisfied that it would be in the best interests of the child in all the circumstances of the case.

For the non resident parent an application for a Prohibited Steps Order is possible. This would prevent the resident parent from moving the child, again if it were deemed to be in that child’s best interests.

As a preliminary to any court application the proposing parent would need to submit to mediation in an attempt to resolve matters amicably.

Karen Brennan is one of a team of expert family solicitors at Cartwright King solicitors who can assist parties facing difficulties linked to the relocation of a child. For more information contact her on 0121 270 1988 or email

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