Can I move to live 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 it is not possible to 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.

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 work
  • 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
  • The impact on you if you were prevented from relocating

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 also 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
  • 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 Section 7 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.

Here to help

Our Family Law Team at Myerson are all members of Resolution, an organisation committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. If you require any assistance you can contact the Family Law Team using the contact form below.

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