As noted earlier in this edition, with an increasingly mobile population, we see more instances of families considering relocation overseas, be it for work, to be closer to family, or to be with a new partner.

However, when parents are separated and one parent wishes to move abroad with a child, that becomes a legal issue.

If both parents have legal parental rights and responsibilities in respect of a child, one parent must have permission from the other to take the child outwith the UK. In the absence of agreement, the parent who wishes to move must apply to the court for permission.

A court must establish whether a move is in the child’s best interests. To do that a court will consider several factors:

  1. Is the proposed move reasonable and has it been well planned? It will be crucial for the parent who wishes to move to have good plans in place for accommodation, schooling, and financial stability.
  1. A court will look at the relationship the child has with the parent who will be left behind – how often do they see each other? A move to Dublin will have less impact on a child’s ability to see the other parent than a move to Australia.

What effect will the move have on how often the child can stay with that parent? Geography will be taken into account. The court will consider the effect of the move on the child. It will also look at the effect on the parent who wishes to move should they be refused permission to do so.

Depending on the age of the child their views will also be taken into account before a decision is made.

The relocation cases that have come before the courts show us that a parent has a better chance of getting permission to move abroad if the move has been carefully planned in advance, to show that a stable home environment is waiting for the child as soon as they step off the plane.