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Child Law- Relocation- what factors will the court take into account?

Published on 21 January 2023 | Modified on 3 May 2023

Written by Helen Stoller

Divorce & Family

Relocation cases can involve both internal relocation (within England & Wales), or external (outside of England & Wales).

In order to relocate with a child, consent is required from the other parent or permission from the court must be obtained. When faced with an application to relocate, the court will take into consideration all of the factors presented to them, with the welfare of the child being the paramount consideration at all times.

There are a number of reasons why a parent may wish to relocate away from the other parent with their child. This may include returning to their hometown, moving for work opportunities, moving to be with a new partner, moving to improve their quality of life or to move away from a threat (including domestic abuse cases).

Relocation often means a complete change to the current arrangements for a child and the parents. One parent could be going from co-parenting to essentially being a single parent, the remaining parent is potentially being deprived of regular contact with their child, and for a child it could mean leaving their family and friends, a change of school and a move to a new environment which is unfamiliar to them.

When representing a parent who wants to relocate, the most successful cases are well prepared, thought through and planned in advance, with the supporting evidence gathered even before the application is made. It’s good practice to talk through the plans with the remaining parent and try to reach an agreement, if possible. 

Given the impact on the remaining parent’s relationship with a child, this can be difficult and a skilled and experienced lawyer will be able to help you to prepare your case in the best way possible.  The aim should be to avoid court proceedings, but if an application is needed the court will want to see evidence of:

  • The reason why the relocating parent wishes to move. This may be for one of the above reasons, but the court will always have the welfare of the child as the paramount consideration, over and above what the parents want.
  • Living arrangements at the new location. This may include housing particulars, rental agreements, a letter from friends / family confirming that the relocating parent and child can reside with them and indications of where local amenities.  The relocating parent needs to paint a picture about the benefits to the child and demonstrate that the plans are realistic.
  • Details of the financial element of relocation. How the relocating parent plans to fund the relocation and any funds that will be available to promote a child’s relationship with the remaining parent, such as the cost of flights / travel.
  • Evidence of nurseries, schools or day care nearby with places available for the child to attend upon moving. Further evidence of clubs, medical facilities, dentists, parks, all the things which a child needs for their development and to enrich their lives.
  • Details of employment. This may include a job offer with the associated pay detailed, evidence of demand for the relocating parent’s skills in the local area, evidence of applications for jobs in the local area.
  • If moving back to where there is a family connection, evidence of the support network of family or friends which is in place, this may be to assist practically with childcare and financially.  The parent should also explain the benefits to a child and parent when a child has dual heritage of maintaining a connection with their family ties.
  • Proposals for how contact will be maintained and promoted between the remaining parent and a child. This should include proposals for how often contact will take place, how handover will occur, the travelling distance and practical arrangements and how the associated costing will be funded.

The court will consider whether the motivation of the relocating parent is genuine, justified and whether it provides benefit to a child, taking into consideration all of the evidence provided.

Relocation is one of the most difficult issues for parents to resolve and often needs court intervention. 

It is important to get expert legal advice from a family law solicitor as soon as possible if you are considering relocation, or you are worried that a parent is looking to relocate.  These cases need careful and expert guidance.

Speak to our team of family law experts on 0800 470 0335 to discuss your case if you are facing issues regarding relocation.

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