Making a Successful Child Relocation Application in the UK
Making a Successful Child Relocation Application in the UK
Following a separation or divorce it is not uncommon for one parent to wish to move away and relocate with their child. There are many reasons that a parent may wish to relocate, such as to be closer to a family support network, change jobs or reduce their living costs.
In these cases, the other parent may proceed to challenge the relocation, particularly if it means that they would be living a significant distance away from their child were the move to go ahead and this would impact any shared care child arrangements.
At IBB Law, we can offer expert advice on child relocation cases. We specialise in working with High Net Worth individuals, having an excellent understanding of the specifics and challenges of High Net Worth divorce processes; particularly when it comes to child arrangements and finance matters.
In this blog, we will cover:
- What is an application for child relocation?
- What is the process for relocating your child?
- What factors are taken into account?
- If you want to relocate your children within the UK, do you need the other parent’s consent?
- What is a Specific Issue Order?
- What is a Prohibited Steps Order?
- What will be considered or sway the Courts?
- What can I do if the Court rejects my child relocation application?
While this blog is intended to offer general information about this subject, it should not be taken as legal advice and is no substitute for speaking to an expert child lawyer. For immediate, expert advice about child relocation in the UK, please contact our child law specialists.
What is an application for child relocation?
Where two parents are separated or divorced, if one parent wishes to relocate with their child, they may need to make an application to the Court for permission to do so.
Firstly it is important to point out to parents, there is no automatic restriction on moves within the UK. The UK is defined as Great Britain including England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but it excludes the Isle of Man and Channel Islands.
Under some circumstances, it may not be necessary to apply to the Court. For instance, if you have a Child Arrangements Order that says the child lives with you and the other parent is not opposed to the move.
Essentially, if you have Parental Responsibility and you are the resident parent, child relocation law does not require you to get the permission of the other parent. There may be some exceptions, for example, if the Child Arrangements Order states weekly contact with the other parent and if this would no longer be possible due to the move.
If the other parent does not agree to relocation, they can challenge and make an application for a Prohibited Steps Order preventing the other parent from relocating or for a Specific Issue Order asking the Court to address a Specific Issue, such as the child’s schooling or upbringing.
What is the process for relocating your child?
If there is a Child Arrangements Order in place which states that your child lives with you, you may be able to relocate your child without following any kind of legal process if the other parent agrees and the child arrangements are not impacted.
However, if the move would breach the terms of any Child Arrangements Order and the other parent opposes, you will need to make an application to the Court.
The relocation of a child can be a complicated issue, which is why early legal advice is recommended.
What factors are taken into account?
In child relocation cases, the Court will reference the welfare checklist, outlined in the Children Act 1989.
The wording of the welfare checklist is as follows:
- The ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considering age and understanding)
- Their physical, emotional and/or educational needs
- The likely effect on any changes to circumstances
- Age, sex, background and any characteristics which the Court considers relevant
- Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering
- How capable each parent is (and any other person in relation to whom the Court considers to be relevant) of meeting the child’s needs
If you want to relocate your children within the UK, do you need the other parent’s consent?
If there is not a Child Arrangements Order in place and the child is living with you, then you don’t need to get permission to move them within the UK. Having said this, it’s advisable to discuss the move with the other parent regardless and keep the situation amicable where possible.
It could be that the Child Arrangements Order states that the child permanently lives with you but has contact each weekend with the other parent. If the move fundamentally impacts the child arrangements and the time you spend with your child, then you’ll need the other parent to agree, alternatively, you’ll need to make a Court application.
It is advisable to seek independent legal advice before applying to the Court. Our solicitors can offer direct and unbiased advice on the best options in your circumstances.
What is a Specific Issue Order?
A Specific Issue Order refers to a Court Order, used to establish and decide on specific issues related to child matters. For example, if a parent wishes to make a decision about their child’s school or upbringing and the other parent opposes, they can apply for a Specific Issue Order to establish:
- Whether the child can be relocated within the UK or abroad
- That the child or children can have their name(s) changed
- Decisions about where they will attend school
- Whether the child’s education should be religious or not
- To stop a certain person from having contact with the child
What will be considered or sway the Courts?
To help your application to be successful, you’ll need to demonstrate to the Court that you’ve conducted detailed planning. You’ll need to demonstrate that you have carefully considered the impact that the move may have on your child.
Our solicitors at IBB Law can work with you to prepare evidence that shows your planning and improves your chances of a successful application. We can help you to prepare information such as:
- Details of where you plan to live and why the new location will be beneficial for the child (for instance, nurseries, schools, leisure and sports facilities in the area)
- Plans that show how you’ll fund the relocation
- How your child’s schooling will work (in terms of continuing on from their current education)
- How your relocation will offer a better quality of life for yourself and your child
- How you propose that the child will maintain a meaningful relationship and contact with their other parent
- Any details about a support network of family and friends that you’ll have close by
- Demonstrating why it’s in the child’s best interests to relocate and their wishes and feelings
- Information about your employment (particularly if you are changing jobs and about how you will arrange childcare)
- Why you wish to or need to relocate within the UK
- Demonstrating a genuine motivation for moving
Working with an expert solicitor with an in-depth knowledge of child relocation laws is the best way to ensure that your application is a success.
What can I do if the Court rejects my child relocation application?
Under some circumstances, the Court may reject your child relocation application, refusing to grant a Specific Issue Order concerning this matter.
If the Court does not feel that the move aligns with the child’s best interests, then they can refuse to grant permission.
Where this happens, it can be difficult to have an application reconsidered. However, if you believe that the move is in your child’s best interests, please do not hesitate to contact us using the details below, for further advice and assessment of your case.
Contact IBB Law for child relocation advice and support
If you require support with child relocation, please get in touch with our expert child arrangements solicitors.
We appreciate that, when separating or getting divorced, finances and child residency matters can be complicated, particularly for High Net Worth individuals. Rest assured; we have much experience helping clients to navigate these matters and can offer a smooth process.
At IBB Law, our Family Law team can provide clear advice on your rights as a parent with regard to child relocation. Whether you are planning to relocate with your child or children or are concerned about plans by your ex-partner to do so, we can help.
You can have confidence in our expertise because:
- We have extensive specific experience with child relocation cases
- We are Legal 500 ranked for Family Law
- We are Chambers & Partners ranked for Family/Matrimonial Law
- We are Law Society accredited for Children Law
- Senior Associate Reena Vadera is a member of the Association of Lawyers for Children (ALC)
- The team includes several members of Resolution, the leading network for family lawyers in the UK
- We are experts in both alternative dispute resolution and court proceedings to resolve child law issues
You can call us on or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.