When parents separate it is of course not unusual that one of them may wish to relocate with the children to another part of the country.
It is clear that a parent may not move a child to another country without the consent of the other parent (provided they have parental responsibility), or the permission of the court. But what is the position regarding an internal relocation?
The answer depends upon whether there is a child arrangements order in place, and whether you are the parent with whom the child lives.
If there is no order in place, you may relocate to another part of the country without the consent of the other parent, or the permission of the court. However, it is strongly recommended that you do seek the other parent’s consent or, failing that, the permission of the court.
Similarly, if there is an order and the child lives with you then you may relocate to another part of the country without the other parent’s consent, unless the terms of the order specifically prohibit it. However, you are still obliged to provide the other parent with contact as required by the order, and once again it is strongly recommended that you do seek the other parent’s consent or the permission of the court.
Lastly, if there is an order and the child does not live with you then you would require the consent of the other parent if you wished to relocate to another part of the country. If consent is not forthcoming then you would need to ask the court to vary the child arrangements order.
So the next question is: if you need its permission to relocate, how does the court decide the matter?
The answer was illustrated in a recent family court case, in which the mother wished to relocate with the children, whose care was shared between both parents, from London to Somerset.
The judge explained that the court must decide whether to grant permission on the basis of what is best for the welfare of the children. This involves balancing all the relevant factors, which may vary hugely from case to case, weighing one against the other, with the objective of determining which of the available options is best for the welfare of the children.
In this particular case the judge found that the children’s welfare was best met by them remaining in London. He made this decision, notwithstanding the wishes of the children to move to Somerset, as he considered that they would suffer emotional harm by permitting their relationship with their father to be damaged by relocation to Somerset.
You can read the full report of the case here.
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