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Relocating abroad with your child

As the number of children being born into international families rises, disputes about relocating children outside the UK are becoming increasingly common. It could be that you’re offered a job overseas or you want to return to your country of birth where you have family and friends. You may need to move home to look after parents, or other family members, or you might even have remarried and want to move to a different country with your new partner. Whatever the reason, when a relationship breaks down, it can be difficult reaching an agreement about the arrangements for your child. Here are some common questions we get asked:

Can I take my child out of the UK regardless of what my ex thinks?

No. Taking a child abroad without the other parent’s consent may result in an offence being committed under the Child Abduction Act 1984. Parents who share responsibility of a child both need to consent to the relocation. Where there is a real and imminent risk that your child may be taken out of the country without both parents consent, the police should be contacted.

How can we reach an agreement on taking my child out of the UK?

Ideally, you and your ex should discuss it and come to an arrangement that’s good for you both, but if it’s not possible, there are other ways it can be achieved. Mediation involves having an independent third party present to help you productively negotiate an agreement. Alternatively, you may need to use a family solicitor. As members of Resolution, our family department is committed to helping parents deal with matters in a constructive and non-confrontational manner.

How long can I take my child out of the UK for?

If there’s a residence order or child arrangements order in place, no one can remove your child from the UK without the written consent of every person who has parental responsibility, or the leave of the court. This, however, doesn’t prevent the parent with an order for the child to live with them from taking their child abroad, providing it’s for a period of less than one month. This covers the standard holiday situation.

Whether there’s an order in place or not, the consent of the other parent is required and if consent can’t be obtained, then the court’s permission will be needed. Even if the other parent doesn’t have parental responsibility, it’s advisable to obtain a written agreement. If a compromise can be reached, then the arrangement can be formalised in a consent order which can be submitted to the court for approval with a C100 application. 

What is a C100 application?

It’s the application form to complete when applying for child arrangements, prohibited steps or a specific issue order.

What is a prohibited steps order?

A prohibited steps order prevents a parent, or person with parental responsibility, carrying out something that is against the wishes of the other parent by imposing certain restrictions. For example, changing your child’s surname or applying for a passport for your child.

What is a specific issue order?

It’s an order that identifies a specific question about any aspect of parental responsibility for your child. For example, it can be used to determine questions about your child’s upbringing, their school, what religion they should follow or any specific medical treatment they require.

I’ve agreed to my ex moving abroad with our child, but is there anything I should put in place?

It’s important to consider formalising the arrangement in a court order so that it’s clear when you’ll be able to spend time with your child directly and indirectly (using mediums such as Facetime and Skype), so that you and your child can continue to have a positive relationship.

If your child is going to live in the EU, with the exception of Denmark, an order made by the English Court is enforceable. This also applies if the proposed move is to a country which is a signatory to the 1996 Hague Convention. In situations where your child is being moved to another part of the world other than the EU or a 1996 Hague Convention country, specialist advice would be needed.

What happens if my ex and I can’t agree about our child moving abroad?

If no agreement can be reached, then the court’s permission would be required. An application for permission to remove a child from the country can be made, setting out the reasons why the move is being proposed and the positive benefits to the child.

What is a MIAM?

A Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM) is a requirement under the Children and Families Act 2014. It’s a short meeting that provides information about mediation as a way of resolving disputes which parents have to attend before certain applications can be made to the court. That said, there are exemptions to attending a MIAM. For example, if you’ve been the victim of domestic violence or if there are child protection concerns. If this applies to you, we can provide further information about exemptions.

What will the court consider when an application is made to relocate my child?

In all instances, the court’s primary consideration is the welfare of your child. It will base its decision on the following factors:

  • The motivation of the parent seeking to relocate
  • The plans of the parent seeking to move
  • The plans of the parent seeking the child to remain
  • The proposals for the involvement of the other parent in the child’s life
  • The plans put forward by the parent opposing the move
  • The child’s wishes and feelings in light of the child’s age and maturity
  • The arrangements made in the new country for housing, finance and education

Each case will depend on its individual merits and circumstances.

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