It is not unusual for one parent to consider relocating to another area within the United Kingdom with a child following the breakdown of a relationship or marriage. In any circumstance, this is not an easy decision to make, and such a decision can often fall down to factors such as the available support network in the proposed location, remarriage, financial reasons, or employment prospects. This article considers how to approach the issue of relocating within the United Kingdom with a child and the next steps if the other parent does not agree.

Ultimately, if parents cannot reach an agreement after discussing the proposed relocation between themselves or having mediated on the issue then court intervention will be required. The parent hoping to relocate will essentially be asking the court to determine the proposed relocation as a ‘specific issue’. The court will be primarily concerned with what is in the best interests of the child in question and the implications should an order granting the relocation be made or the impact if not.

So, how does the court determine whether a relocation would be in the best interests of the child? The reasons for the desired relocation are important i.e., why does one parent wish to relocate? It is established within case law that when undertaking an analysis regarding the merits of the application, the court will need to assess the impact that any decision not to relocate would have on the parent hoping to move and the consequential impact on the child.

Therefore, the parent seeking to move must provide detailed information to the court as to the practicalities of any relocation. This will include consideration as to how contact with the other parent would be facilitated including travel time between the current locality and the proposed locality, the consequential costs of travel, comparisons of schooling in the area against the current schooling arrangement, how the parent will meet the needs of the child, the suitability of the proposed new accommodation, details as to the motivation for the move and how a move otherwise could not be avoided.

Contemplation of Relocation: relocating with a child post-separation

The court will consider all of the above, alongside the welfare checklist (section 1(3) Children Act 1989), to assist in determining whether the proposed relocation is ultimately in the best interests of the child or not.  The checklist includes the wishes and feelings of the child in light of age and understanding, physical, emotional, and educational needs, the effect of any change, the capability of the parent meeting the child’s needs and/or risk of harm. 

Any proposed relocation must be well thought through as the court will not entertain an application to relocate made on a whim or thought to be made to obstruct contact between the child and the parent remaining behind.

How can we help?

How can we help?

If you or your former partner or spouse are planning to relocate and require any further information, please contact our private family team on 01740 646000 or fill in an online enquiry form via our website: and someone will be in touch.

Call: 01740 646000