Child Arrangements and International Relocation


I want to move abroad with our children, what should I do?

If there is a good level of communication it is best to talk to the other parent with parental responsibility to see whether an agreement can be reached. Arrangements will need to be agreed and confirmed in writing that both parents agree. It is a criminal offence (child abduction) to move abroad with your children without permission from the other parent.

I don’t communicate with my ex and I know they won’t agree to moving overseas with our children. What can I do?

It is essential to seek legal advice as soon as possible in these circumstances. Thorough research is a good idea to help formulate a plan to move overseas. If you intend to work to provide an income, it is important to research job opportunities in your chosen destination first. If appropriate, make enquiries of suitable schools or childcare in the area and find out about their admissions procedure. An application may also be needed for permission from the court to move abroad with the children and your lawyer can advise you on this.

But the children live with me, why do I need permission?

The law is keen to promote children’s welfare and will support a child’s right to have a relationship with both parents. The courts have extensive powers to ensure that, unless the contrary is shown, the involvement of both parents in a child’s life will further the child’s welfare. The court will always place a child’s welfare at the forefront of any decisions.

If I move abroad how can the children maintain their relationship with the other parent?

A lot will depend on the children’s ages and the distances involved. One way might be for the children to spend time living with the other parent during school holidays and it is now much easier to keep in touch by Skype / FaceTime or telephone. It will all depend on the circumstances of each case.

Can I stop my child from moving to another country with my former partner?

A child cannot be moved permanently from the UK without the consent of those holding parental responsibility (usually limited to the parents of the child). If you do not agree to your child moving abroad, then the other parent will need to make an application to the court in order to get permission from the court to move the children. An application can be made to the court to prevent any move overseas. Mediation has to be attempted before any application is made to the court, save in the case of an emergency..

I am really worried my children may quickly be taken abroad, what can I do?

Firstly ensure their passports are in safe place. If you have real and genuine concerns then you can make an urgent application to court to prevent any travel.

My child has been taken abroad without my permission, how can I get them home?

Procedures differ, depending on the country to which the child has been taken. Laws are in place in numerous countries to ensure the prompt return of a child back to their home country so that any dispute about where that child should live can be dealt with in accordance with the laws of their home country. Any application for a child’s return should be dealt with promptly and must be within 12 months. There are various defences and exemptions but the law will usually require a child to be returned home where any disputes can then be dealt with.


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If you wish to move abroad with your children, try and talk to the other parent

Written or verbal permission is needed from all people with parental responsibility to move children abroad. Good communication between parents can help ensure that relocation runs smoothly.

Make sure any agreement that you reach is recorded in writing

If the other parent verbally agrees an arrangement where the children can leave the country, this should be recorded in writing so that both parents can refer to and rely on the agreement at a later stage if necessary. It also helps to ensure there is no confusion about what is being agreed.

Make sure that you have a detailed plan for your move abroad

If the matter proceeds to court, a judge will expect a very detailed plan for how the move abroad will work. This will include specific details such as where you will live, what you will do for work, what family support there is and where the children will go to school. At the centre of this should always be how the move will be good for the children.

Always remember that your children’s relationship with the other parent is important

When relocating a child, a judge will look at what steps can be taken to ensure that the relationship with the other parent can be maintained. Arrangements for the children to see the other parent should form part of the detailed plan. If this will involve extensive travel then consider how the expense of this will be met. Also think about other measures that can be put in place such as telephone calls and Skype. In most cases it will not be sufficient to leave this to the other parent to deal with this. The plan is also likely to be more appealing to the other parent if this has been thought about.

If you think that your ex-partner might be about to leave the country without your permission, take urgent advice

In most circumstances a parent needs consent from anyone else who has parental responsibility for their child(ren) before taking them out of the country. If you become aware that they intend to remove the children without your consent then you can apply to the court to prevent the child(ren) from leaving. If you think that this might happen imminently then it is wise to seek urgent legal advice. It might also be possible to take practical steps such as keeping the children’s passports in a safe place to prevent them from travelling.

If your ex-partner has already taken your child(ren) abroad then you should seek legal advice as soon as possible

This also applies where a parent has taken children abroad and not brought them back home by the agreed date or after an agreed time period. The action that you need to take will depend on which country the children have been taken to, but taking legal advice as soon as possible can be crucial.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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