This is always a very emotive issue to be called upon to advise be it acting for the party wishing to take a child to live abroad or for a party who wishes to prevent a child from being removed to live abroad.  This is a separate issue to a child being unlawfully removed.

When a child is born the mother will automatically be granted what is known as parental responsibility.  Fathers will acquire this by way of being named on the child’s birth certificate, by entering into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother or the court ordering that the father should have parental responsibility. Same sex couples will acquire parental responsibility albeit in different ways be it relating to a second female parent or following surrogacy.

For a child to be removed from England and Wales, then the removing parent must have the consent of all parties with parental responsibility (there are occasions where there are more than one) or with the permission of the court.  A parent with a child arrangements “live with” order will be able to remove a child for a period of up to a month without needing consent or permission as it is recognised that that would be for such as a holiday.  The issue here is the permanent removal of a child to live abroad.

If a party does not consent to the child being removed to live abroad, then the court will be required to determine the issue.  The application will either be for a specific issue order seeking the court’s consent to the removal or for a prohibited steps order preventing the removal.

The issue of a child being taken abroad to live is known as international relocation. Within the UK this is known as internal relocation.  When a party wishes to present a case in favour of the child being relocated abroad (and internally in a lot of cases), that party must have carried out a significant amount of due diligence as the court must be satisfied that it is in a child’s best interests. 

Can I stop my ex taking my children to live abroad?

Therefore, there has to be a real reason why the relocation is being planned.  For many it is because the party wishing to remove has secured better employment prospects or are in a relationship with a person who is not a UK national, and they wish to return to their home abroad.   It cannot be on a whim or any hint that it is to obstruct a relationship with the parent remaining behind.  The application will likely fail in such circumstances.  There will need to be serious consideration of not only how life will work in the new country be it in relation to education, health, support network, relocating parent’s work plan and also how the family will be financially supported. 

There will also have to be a lot of thought put into showing to the court how the relationship with the remaining parent will be promoted.  Definitely where the child spends a lot of time with the remaining parent and even where there is more limited time spent.  It cannot be underestimated by the parent wishing to remove the child how much detail and thought they will need to be put into the plan as witness statements will be directed to be prepared within the proceedings setting out all plans for and against.  There will also need to be thought given as to the impact upon the child and also the parent wishing to remove the child, if an order allowing the removal is refused.  

The courts are very conscious that whichever way they determine the application, there will be one parent left upset at the court’s decision that could impact upon the child as well.  This is not always from the point of view of the remaining parent because if they are successful as their reason will be to keep the status quo of their relationship with the child but for a parent wishing to relocate, their distress in their wish to relocate being prevented can emotionally impact upon the child.  So as stated at the outset these are very emotive applications so do give serious caution as to the reasons for wishing to relocate/prevent the relocation before embarking on the steps you then take.

Can I stop my ex taking my children to live abroad?

How can Tilly Bailey & Irvine help?

We recognise that disputes involving children can be particularly emotive and we have significant expertise to guide you through reaching agreements outside of court proceedings but also the expertise and knowledge to assist you if court proceedings become necessary.

Please do not hesitate to contact our Private Law Family Team on 01740 646000 to discuss appointments, or fill in an online enquiry form and someone will be in touch.

Call: 01740 646000