There may be many reasons why you find yourself looking to relocate with your children after a divorce, and here at Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors we have many years of both personal, and professional, experience as leave to remove lawyers in Guildford, Surrey.
You may find yourself in a situation where you have recently finalised your divorce and be starting to settle into your new life only be offered a new job in a different area, or you may meet someone new who doesn’t live near to you. There may be financial or family reasons why you feel a relocation would be beneficial.
These are all not uncommon reasons, but your first concern should be how any kind of move will affect any childcare arrangements you currently have in place between you and your ex-partner.
It will also raise many questions like - is it allowed, is your ex-partner expected to move too, what contact arrangements can be put in place, so the left behind parent can maintain a relationship with their child? There is a lot to think about if relocation is an option that either one of you wishes to pursue. All these questions will need answering and if you cannot arrive at a mutually acceptable arrangement, then you will need to ask the Courts to intervene.
A relocation involving children will need to balance the needs of both the parents and the children. If both of you have parental rights then one parent cannot simply ‘up sticks’ and move away from the other – a due process must be followed or there can be serious repercussions and you can even find yourself charged with child abduction. If you cannot agree between you a mutually acceptable way forward then you will need to apply to the courts and they will make a judgement based on the evidence you both provide.
The law – parental rights and responsibilities.
When parents separate or divorce, they will not both automatically have parental rights for the children. The mother has them from birth, as does the father if they were married at the time of birth or have since married. If they were not married, the father will only have them if his name is on the birth certificate and the child was registered (or re-registered) after 1st December 2003. If the child was born before then, even if his name is on the birth certificate he does not have any parental rights or responsibilities. Anyone who has parental rights for a child must agree to a relocation, or a court will need to look at the case and decide what is in the child’s best interests.
Things to take into consideration when thinking about a relocation move.
Relocation is a really emotive are of the law and can be a very difficult thing to go through, whichever side of the fence you are sitting on. Things you should consider and give serious thought to before proceeding are:
How does your child actually feel about a move? It is possible to have an age appropriate conversation with your child to determine how they feel about the whole thing and to discover their preferences for the future. Bear in mind they have already been through the divorce with you and will be feeling vulnerable as a move will affect them quite significantly, especially if they are school age as they will have to form new friendships, start a new school, find their way around a new neighbourhood etc.
How will you be able to maintain contact with the other parent? I.e. visitation, telephone etc. especially if you are considering a move abroad where travel times, time zones etc. will all need to be factored into an arrangement.
How important is it to maintain contact with grandparents, or extended family members in the event of a move? There may be a close bond there now and that will be affected in the event of a move, can arrangements be put into place to maintain this?
What are the reasons for the move? If it is for purely manipulative purposes to deny one parent access to the child on a regular basis, rest assured the court will see this and it can actually go against any parent trying this tactic. If it is for family reasons, such as moving back to a place of birth, where there are other family members for support, or for financial reasons, such as a better job etc. then these are also fully considered by the courts and a judgement made on their merits.
Can I move abroad? If one parent wishes to move abroad with the children, then all people with parental rights must agree to this. If you cannot agree between yourselves then you will need to apply to the courts for a court order, known as a Specific Issue Order.
As expert leave to remove lawyers we are well placed to offer you the best possible advice for you and your family and to help guide you through the minefield of relocation cases. You will always be treated as an individual, as no two cases are the same.
Things the court will take into consideration before making a judgment.
The courts will look at many things before reaching a decision on your individual case. They will require evidence that certain areas have been given due care and attention by yourselves. These will include, but aren’t limited to:
Childcare, have you enquired about schools in the new area, do they have places, do you have to wait until the next school year starts for a place? Do you require a nursery and if so is there availability at the ones you have looked at? Do you require after school clubs if you are going to be working? Do they have spaces, what times are they available etc?
Accommodation, where will you live, will you rent or buy? How will this be financed? Will you be living with family?
Financial, does this move benefit you financially? Are your job prospects improved with the move? Do you have a job already waiting for you? If you aren’t intending to work how will your new life be financed?
If these areas, among others, cannot be evidenced as beneficial to the child and there is no compelling reason why a relocation would benefit them, and if the child is already enjoying a good standard of living and maintaining a good relationship with the non-resident partner, then it is entirely reasonable to expect the courts not to grant the order allowing the resident parent to relocate. It is vitally important to obtain the best possible advice you can in this situation to make sure that you are in the best place possible, prior to any court proceedings and legally binding agreements. We have years of experience as leave to remove lawyers behind us and will always act as if your children were our own. In the event that your ex-partner has a compelling reason to move, we will always be honest with you and discuss all options open to you at that time.
Going through a leave to remove case may seem like walking through a mine field and be fraught with difficulties, but we are here to help you to navigate through it and we will be there to help you all the way through the process. With our unique legal and psychological approach we can help you to mediate with your ex-partner and come to a mutually agreeable conclusion, with your child’s interests at the heart of it.
If you are looking for a lawyer to help with a leave to remove based in London then call us today on 01483 826470 where we can talk you through the process.