Leave to remove lawyers and child relocation questions.
If you plan to relocate with your child following a separation or divorce, you will need an experienced leave to remove lawyers to work with you and guide you through the process in a clear and easily explained manner. After a separation or divorce involving children there are lots of decisions to be made and one of the most difficult is to move away, or relocate with a child. Whether it is yourself who wishes to relocate to another part of the country or live permanently abroad, or if you are concerned that the other parent wishes to move away, our expert and highly experienced lawyers will be with you every step of the way, supporting you with any decisions which need to be made and making sure you are fully aware of aspects of your case at all times. It is not a decision to be taken lightly and there are many things to take into consideration, such as contact arrangements for the other parent, where they will attend school and many others. It is extremely important that you have a well thought out and planned arrangement in place and that you are as open and communicative with the other parent as you can be, this will help them to understand all the reasons behind your decision.
Relocating within the UK.
If one parent wishes to relocate in the UK they do not require the other parent’s permission. It is however, a good idea to obtain written consent from the other parent, well in advance of any proposed move, to provide clarity and it shows responsible parenting. You should not just uproot and move without advising the other parent of your intentions. If you do so then the other parent can apply to the courts to make an order stopping you, until the case has been properly investigated and a decision reached. You should communicate your plans with the other parent and ideally, if at all possible, prior to telling the children of the move. Equally if you are the non-moving parent you will have lots of questions and deserve to know the plans in place for your child. Once your questions have been answered you can then decide if you feel the move to be in the child’s best interests or not and whether you wish to apply to the courts to prevent the move from taking place.
If you cannot agree that the move is best for the child then there are steps that can be taken, but ultimately will require one of you making an application to the courts for one of several orders; a prohibited steps order, a child arrangement order or a specific issue order. As highly experienced leave to remove lawyers, we will make you aware of all options open to you and recommend the best course of action pertaining to your case. We will liaise with you over the best interests of your child and help you to fully understand any repercussions to decisions which you may take.
Ultimately the court will make any decisions based on the best interests of the child and what is best for their welfare. Some of the things they will be taking into consideration are:
The thoughts, feelings and wishes of the child themselves, obviously age appropriate.
The child’s emotional, physical, and educational needs, i.e. do they need extra support.
If and how any change in circumstance will affect the child, both positively and negatively,
If the child has previously suffered any harm or is likely to in the future,
Any age, background or any other characteristics that may be relevant to the proceedings,
How is each parent capable of meeting the child’s needs.
You may have decided to emigrate abroad following a divorce, or you may wish to relocate back to a country of birth where you feel you will have more support, either way if you are intending to relocate abroad after a divorce or separation you will need to have planned well in advance. If you plan to leave the UK you must have the written consent from any other person who has parental responsibility for the child. Usually this will just be the other parent, but in some cases will be grandparents, local authority care etc. If they do not all agree to the relocation, then you will need to apply to the court for a Specific Issue Order for permission to remove your child from the UK to live abroad. If permission is not obtained you can find yourself at high risk of child abduction charges being bought against you, should you decide to leave without it, as it is a criminal offence to remove a child from the UK without the appropriate consents. This would also be damaging to your case in the long run as you can find yourself being penalised by the courts should you choose to have tried to leave without these consents. The only exception to this is where a parent has either a residence order in place, or is the holder of residence under a Child Arrangements Order, then they may take the child out of the UK for up to 28 days without the consent of anyone else who has Parental Responsibility for the child, unless there is an order in place expressly prohibiting this. If the parent intends to take the child out of the UK for longer than 28 days, then they will need to acquire the appropriate consent. If this cannot be agreed then a court order would need to be obtained.
The courts can, and will, impose restrictions or require that a passport be surrendered, if a parent has valid concerns about the frequency of trips abroad or there is a danger that the other parent may abduct the child.
When making a decision on relocating abroad, the courts priority will always be the child’s best interests and their welfare. They will also look at the motives behind the case and address things like:
Is the parent´s application genuine, i.e. that it is not motivated by a selfish desire to exclude one parent from the child’s life?
Is the parent´s application realistically founded on practical proposals that have been both well researched and investigated?
What would be the impact on the parent of a refusal of their realistic proposal?
Is the opposition motivated by a genuine concern for the future of the child´s welfare or is it driven by some ulterior motive?
What would be the extent of the detriment to the left behind parent and their future relationship with the child if the application is granted?
To what extent would that detriment be offset by the expansion of the child´s relationships with the wider family and homeland?
Are the plans realistic and well researched?
Careful consideration is given to the reasons for the opposing parent’s view.
The child’s welfare will be the paramount consideration when the court is considering the matter of child relocation.
If you believe that there is a very real risk of your former spouse taking your child abroad without your consent, then you are urged to seek legal advice promptly. You will then need to make an application to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order. We can help navigate you through all your questions and queries to enable the best possible result for you.
We will always be honest with you on the options open to you and the chances of success, based on your child’s best interests. As is always important to consider how contact between the other parent and the child will work once a move has been made, whether in the UK or abroad, we can help to facilitate increased contact, or visits, as a condition of your permission to agree to the relocation, if necessary. We may also be able to negotiate assistance with travel costs for contact too. As leave to remove lawyers with both personal and professional experience in this field, we really are best placed to help you with your personal situation.
Whether you wish to locate to another part of the UK or you wish to live permanently abroad, or if you are concerned that your child’s other parent wishes to move away with your child, our highly experienced leave to remove lawyers will work with you enabling you to make an informed decision as to what you need to do next.
Contact us here at Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors, for expert advice on all aspects of Family Law.
01483 826 470