If you’re considering international relocation with your child or children, this can be particularly challenging to deal with for parents who are separated.

Where one parent seeks to take a child to live in another country – perhaps because they wish to return to their original country of birth or migrate to a different way of life – the explicit permission is needed from all those who hold parental responsibility for the child being relocated.

Here family law expert David Connor explores the difficulties facing separated parents who wish to relocate their children abroad and explains the process, as well as common issues and how they may be tackled.

Parental responsibility and consent

A move abroad involving children is one of the most difficult situations that can arise following a separation and often creates tough family disputes surrounding who will have primary parental care of the children moving forward.

Those who hold parental responsibility are by law able to refuse to give consent for the other parent to relocate their child overseas. If your ex-partner does deny consent, then an application will need to be made by them to the court in a bid to gain permission via a court order.

Court assessment

Parents in this situation often suffer a degree of anxiety and trauma due to the issues raised and for the courts, the balancing act performed by the judges is often a very fine line.

The one legal principle and paramount consideration for the court in determining issues of this nature is the welfare of the child.

The court will carry out an assessment of the plans proposed by each parent, as well as taking into consideration human rights issues, including the right of the child to maintain personal relationships and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis. This also includes the right of the parent to ongoing family life and contact with their child.

While every case is different and will be approached on an individual basis, some of the main issues that are often considered in proving whether or not moving abroad is within your child’s best interests are set out below.

Relevant issues to consider

The following factors usually form the basis of a case, so it’s vital to keep these in mind when making any decision relating to moving your child abroad:

  • The motivation of the applicant
  • The motivation of the respondent
  • The level of planning by the applicant with more planning expected where there is a leap into the unknown
  • The alternative plans from the respondent
  • Proposals for promoting the ongoing involvement of the other parent, including looking at practicalities such as age of the child, ability to travel unaccompanied and school holiday availability
  • The child’s wishes and feelings which become more important as the child gets older
  • The effect of the changed relationship between the child and the parent living in a separate country
  • The effect on the parent with care of the child if permission was refused.

As relocating a child abroad without the consent of others that hold parental responsibility is an extremely complex area of law, early legal advice and planning is vital to help achieve a successful outcome.

For more advice on this complex area of family law or to help resolve any child-related dispute, contact David Connor on 01706 225621 or david.connor@whnsolicitors.co.uk