Can I Relocate With My Child Abroad?

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Prior to removing a child permanently from the country, you must obtain the written consent of the other parent and/or other person(s) with parental responsibility for the child(ren)

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Can I move abroad with my children?

If you are separated or divorced and want to move abroad permanently with your child, you must obtain written consent from the other parent and/or any other person who has parental responsibility for the child.

If the other parent will not agree to the proposed move, you could consider attending mediation. If you cannot reach an agreement at mediation, then it is possible to make an application to the court for permission to relocate. This is known as a "leave to remove" or relocation application.

Removing a child from the country without the required consent may result in an offence being committed under the Child Abduction Act 1984.

Moving With Child Abroad

The practicalities of the proposed move

Before you make an application to the court, it is important to think about the practicalities of the proposed move.

The court will want to know about your plans, and you will need to think about the following: 

  • Your proposed living arrangements;
  • Details of working arrangements;
  • Where your child will go to school; 
  • What healthcare arrangements are in place;
  • Your plans to maintain contact with the other parent and wider family;
  • Details of your support network after the proposed move; and
  • The impact on you if you were prevented from relocating.

The above is not an exhaustive list. 

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What will the court consider?

When the court considers an application to relocate, the court's primary concern is the welfare of the child. The judge will consider the welfare checklist, which includes the following: 

  • The wishes and feelings of the child concerned so far as they can be ascertained, bearing in mind the child's age and understanding;
  • The child's physical, emotional, and educational needs;
  • The likely effect on the child of any change in their circumstances;
  • The child's age, sex, background, and relevant characteristics;
  • The risk of the child suffering harm; and 
  • How capable each parent is of meeting the child's needs.

The court may be assisted by the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS). A Cafcass Officer may be directed to prepare a report to make recommendations to the court.

If you have concerns that your former spouse or partner wants to relocate with your child and you want to object to it, you will need to explain to the court why you do not agree and potentially make an urgent application to the court, known as a prohibited steps application. 

Relocating Abroad With Child

Can I take my child abroad on holiday? 

A holiday abroad with your child is very different from permanent relocation. However, you must get the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child or from a court before taking the child abroad. Usually, that will mean getting the permission of the other parent. 

You automatically have parental responsibility if you're the child's mother, but you still need the permission of anyone else with parental responsibility before you take the child abroad.

You can take a child abroad for 28 days without permission if a child arrangement order says the child must live with you unless a court order says you can't.

A letter from the person with parental responsibility for the child is usually enough to show you've got permission to take them abroad.

You might be asked for the letter at a UK or foreign border or if there's a dispute about taking a child abroad. The letter should include the other person's contact details and details about the trip.

It also helps if you've:

  • Evidence of your relationship with the child, e.g. a birth or adoption certificate
  • A divorce or marriage certificate, if you are a single parent but your family name is different from the child's.

If the other person with parental responsibility refuses to let you take the child abroad, you would have to make an application to the court. The court will consider the welfare checklist above when making a decision. The court will also need to see documentary evidence of the proposed holiday and return date. Usually, a court would not prevent someone from taking a child on holiday without good reason.

Contact Our Family Law Solicitors

The Family Law Team at Myerson are all members of Resolution, an organisation committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. You can contact our Family Law Team below if you have any more questions or more information regarding child relocation.

0161 941 4000