Permanently moving abroad with your child

Posted on
What are a parent's options if they want to permanently relocate to another jurisdiction with their child?

In short, they have two: they can obtain the agreement of anyone else with parental responsibility for their child[1] before moving, or they can make an application to the Court for an Order requesting permission to permanently relocate abroad.

The suggestion of permanently relocating to an overseas jurisdiction is one which is, understandably, likely to bring about heightened tensions between separated parents.

If an application becomes necessary, the Court will take into account a number of factors, the most important of these being what it considers to be in the best interests of the child.  Leading judgments over the last decade concerning leave to remove applications have provided guidance on this point and greatly assist Judges and practitioners when dealing with such an application. Whilst each case very much turns on its own facts, the Court will consider in addition to the child's welfare:

  • The genuineness of the proposals of the parent planning to move i.e. that the move is not in fact an indirect way of trying to prevent contact between the child and their other parent;
  • The effect of being refused permission to relocate on the parent wishing to do so;
  • The effect on the child if contact with their other parent were potentially to come to an end as a result of the proposed relocation; and
  • The possibility of the child continuing to have some form of contact with the non-resident parent.

It is therefore necessary for a parent wishing to relocate to show genuine and well-intentioned reasons for wanting to do so, and to demonstrate that these reasons will have a positive benefit for their child. They need to have a well-thought-out plan for relocating, which has factored in housing, schooling, medical care and other practical issues, as well as possible ways for their child to maintain contact with their other parent.   

[1] Please see Laura Bennett's article "Acquiring Parental Responsibility" for more information.