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Child Relocation Law

If you want to move with your child within the UK or overseas, or you object to your ex-partner’s plans to relocate with the children, you need urgent child abduction and children law advice from an expert solicitor who understands what you are going through and who will advise by taking a personal approach to your family circumstances.

Moving with your children

Whether you’re planning to move within the UK or overseas if you are a parent planning on relocating some distance away from your ex-partner you need expert child custody relocation advice so you understand your legal rights and whether you need Court permission before you can move. If you are a parent opposing your child’s relocation it is just as important to take speedy advice. Expert child relocation and child abduction law solicitors at Evolve, led by partner Louise Halford, have the legal expertise to support and help you achieve your goals.

A child relocation expert on your side

If you want to move with your children, or oppose the children moving away, then the stakes are high for both parents and extended family. If a move is planned within the UK or overseas expert children and child relocation law advice is needed so you know if you require Court permission, the consequences of not applying for Court permission, and what Court applications you can make to stop a move within the UK or overseas. For expert, incisive legal advice the Evolve children law and international family solicitors are there for you. We can quickly and expertly advise on all your legal options.

Why choose the child relocation law solicitors at Evolve Family Law?

Child relocation and abduction law solicitor Louise Halford is an expert in helping parents move with their children after a separation or divorce or opposing a relocation application. Louise understands just how important either a move within the UK or an overseas relocation is to both parents and the importance of sensitive but speedy expert legal advice on all aspects of child custody and contact, child abduction and child relocation law.

Child Relocation Law – Your Questions Answered

What is the UK child relocation law on moving abroad after a separation or divorce?

If you want to take your child out of the UK to live in a foreign country after your separation or divorce then you either need:

  • The agreement of every other person who has parental responsibility for the child or
  • A Court Order allowing the child to relocate abroad.

Why do I need the other parent’s permission or a Court Order to move overseas with my child?

If a parent decides to leave the UK and relocate abroad without the agreement of the other parent or permission from a Court then the parent may commit a criminal offence of child abduction.

People think it is scaremongering to talk about criminal offences and child abduction when the issue involves taking your child to live abroad. After all, parents have rights but so does the child’s other parent and they can object to the move. The Court may agree with you that child custody relocation is in your child’s best interests if you prepare for your move and get expert legal advice from a children law and child relocation solicitor.

Child relocation law tips on applications to move overseas with a child

Many of these tips are self-evident but when you’ve separated or divorced from a partner, it can help to go back to basics and check that you:

  • Give yourself enough time – this isn’t always possible if there is a sudden job move abroad foisted on you by your employer but, if possible, do your research on location, homes, schooling, culture and most importantly how contact between your child and your ex-partner would work after your move before you speak to your ex-partner or make a Court application.
  • Make a Court application – Give yourself preparation time to make a Court application because if you can’t get the other parent’s agreement to a child custody relocation it could take several months for the Court to decide whether or not to give you permission to move your child abroad.
  • Don’t leave with haste –  However tempting leaving with haste appears, you should not leave in haste. Many parents assume that as their ex-partner has very little to do with the children it will be OK to move abroad as they are the child’s main carer. Whilst a gung-ho or ‘can do’ attitude is great in some scenarios it can lead to a lot of heartache and expense when it comes to child custody relocation laws.
  • Don’t assume you don’t need permission – Even if you have foreign nationality or your child has dual citizenship you may still need UK Court permission to take your child overseas. If the child is habitually resident in the UK, then you will need your ex-partner’s agreement or a Court Order to relocate as child custody relocation laws are based on a child’s habitual residence rather than on their nationality.
  • Be flexible on contact – if you want to relocate abroad with the children you may need to give more when it comes to agreeing on contact time during the school summer holidays or making Skype or Facetime contact part of your new weekly regime.
  • Think about the family – normally it isn’t just the other parent who will be affected by a child’s move abroad. Thinking about how stepchildren or grandparents or cousins will be impacted by your child’s move will help you come up with solutions to make the move work for the family.

How do I get Court permission to move overseas with my child?

If you can’t get the agreement of everyone with parental responsibility for your child to move abroad then you will need to lodge an application at Court to explain what you would like the Court to order. You may also be asked to file a detailed statement setting out why you believe the move abroad is in your child’s best interests and how you anticipate the parent being left behind will be able to spend contact time with the child.

What happens if court permission to relocate abroad is refused?

Many parents assume that the Court is deciding whether or not the parent can move abroad. That’s not the case – the Court can only decide what is in a child’s best interests and make Orders relating to the child under child custody relocation orders. If the court refuses permission the parent can;

  • Leave without the child and decisions then have to be taken about how often the child can see the parent who is moving abroad, the opposite to what would have happened if the Court had given permission to relocate.
  • Appeal against the Court decision refusing permission for the child to move abroad.
  • Wait and ask for Court permission at a later date. 

Child custody relocation overseas and contact orders

If you are successful in getting Court permission for your child to relocate abroad with you then the Court will normally make a child arrangement Order that will set out :

  • What your permission covers: what country you’ve been given permission to take the child to.
  • The contact arrangements: the Order can include the frequency of Skype contact, the number of times the other parent can see the child each year and for how long and whether the child can fly unaccompanied etc.
  • Mirror orders: the Court can state that a ‘Mirror Order’ is obtained in the country that the child is relocating to in order to ensure that if the Court Order doesn’t comply with, the Order can be enforced in the country you have relocated to. 

What happens if I don’t follow child custody relocation laws and move overseas?

A number of countries have signed up for the Hague Convention. If a country has signed up to The Hague Convention and a child is taken without parent agreement or Court Order to another Hague Convention country then the aim, under Hague Convention rules, is to return the child to the country that they have been taken from as quickly as possible. There are limited circumstances where the Court may refuse to return the child to their original country.

In practical terms what this means is that if you take your child to live abroad without complying with UK child custody relocation laws you could be forced to return to the UK with your child. The Court in the UK would then decide what was in the best interests of your child – to stay in the UK or be given permission to move abroad. It is harder to get permission to take your child to live abroad if you have left and not followed the UK child custody relocation laws. That is why it pays to not only prepare and plan for your move abroad with your child but to also get expert legal advice from a children law solicitor on your options and how to increase the prospects of successfully getting Court permission to relocate abroad with your child.

What is the UK child relocation law on moving within the UK with your child after a separation or divorce?

Whether you need permission to move within the UK depends on whether there is an existing Child Arrangement Order in place or not.

If there is a child arrangement Order then you can’t move within the UK if you would mean breaching the existing Order so you will either need the other parent’s written agreement to the move or apply to Court to vary the Order. For example, the child arrangement Order may say the children live with you and have alternate weekend contact and mid-week contact with their other parent. This contact might be impossible if you move many miles away but the existing Order may not need to be varied and you may not need permission if you are planning a move to another suburb in the same city or to a nearby village to the one you currently live in.

If permission is needed because of an existing child arrangement Order, the other parent could oppose the application to vary the Child Arrangement Order or bring their own Court application.

If there is no child arrangement Order in place and the children live with you then you don’t need Court permission to move within the UK but it is best to talk to the other parent about your planned move and get their agreement. If they object to the move, they could apply to the court for a Specific Issue Order or for a Prohibited Steps Order or a Child Arrangement Order. These applications could delay your move or even force a move back so communication and compromise are best. For example, your ex-partner may be willing to agree to the move if they understand the reasons behind it or if they are reassured by your plans for contact.

How Evolve can help resolve child relocation plans

Taking early child relocation advice is crucial so you understand your rights and whether you will need an agreement or a Court Order or if you are likely to be successful in opposing a move. Louise Halford is a specialist children law, child abduction and child relocation solicitor who has substantial experience in helping resolve relocation disputes.