Taking Children Abroad and Child Relocation After Separation or Divorce

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We have a longstanding reputation in advising parents who wish to take their child abroad to live and relocate after separation or divorce - and equally in advising parents who want to prevent such a move.

Both parents (if they have parental responsibility) must consent to their child being taken out of the country (even if it is just for a holiday); a failure to obtain consent could be classed as child abduction. If there is no agreement for a child to leave the jurisdiction, then a court application will need to be made to obtain an order granting permission to go.

Child relocation cases, or 'leave to remove' cases as they are sometimes known, can be incredibly stressful for everyone involved, both for the parent planning to move abroad who faces the prospect of their plans being thwarted and being forced to remain in a country they no longer wish to be in, and the potential “left behind” parent, who has the devastating prospect of their child living far away with a significant detrimental effect on their relationship. 

If (as is often the case) one parent objects to the move, the departing parent will need to obtain the court’s permission to take the child(ren) out of the country. Inevitably, these cases can be highly contested wherever one parent wants to move, be it within Europe, the Middle East or further afield such as Australia and the US.

In all relocation cases, whether you are the parent seeking to take your child abroad or the parent who opposes the move, choosing the right strategy at an early stage can have a big impact on the chances of success. Whether you intend to instruct lawyers throughout the court process or prefer to represent yourself with advice behind the scenes, it is vital to take advice at the earliest opportunity.

Our clients have a whole host of reasons for wishing to relocate abroad. Some want to ‘return home’ after the breakdown of a relationship, while others may want to follow their new partner, take a new job or simply move for lifestyle reasons.  Any parent wishing to take their child abroad will need to provide full details of their plans such as housing, schooling and most importantly how the child will retain as full a relationship with the ‘left behind’ parent as is possible following the move. The overriding concern for the court will be the welfare of the child and the court will only allow an application to succeed if it is in the best interests of the child(ren).

For the potential ‘left behind’ parent the prospects of an application being allowed and their children living in a different country or even continent can be devastating. Even if the child does not live with the parent for substantial periods of time, the court recognises the importance of a child having a full relationship and considerable contact with both parents and it will be sympathetic to any defence, particularly if it is motivated by a genuine concern about the impact on the child of a move and their relationship with their left behind parent.  Increasingly, the English courts are refusing mothers’ applications even where they are the primary care givers.

Relocation cases can be expensive, but we will give you clear cost estimates from the outset and for each stage of proceedings. Getting the strategy right from the outset is crucial; a meeting with us early on before firm plans have been made can pay dividends.  We are often instructed by clients well after the divorce or relationship breakdown. The client may have used different lawyers for the divorce, but wish to use a team experienced in international children cases given the importance of the issues.

We work with a number of child specialists who regularly provide independent welfare reports for the court. With a substantial amount of our work being international, we also work regularly with foreign lawyers with whom we can liaise.  We can also work with experienced child therapists if you or your children need additional support.

Recent examples of work

  • Acting for a father, opposing the mother’s application to permanently remove the parties’ two children to Abu Dhabi to live with the mother’s new husband. The mother’s historic conduct raised significant concerns about the sustainability of his relationship with the girls if they were to go. The case required an understanding of the law in the UAE (where we have strong contacts) and the instruction of Islamic Law experts.   The case involved important issues regarding leave to remove, Wardship, illegitimacy in the UAE and security when relocation children to non-Hague convention countries.
  • Acting for an Australian mother wanting to return to live in Australia with her very young child.
  • Acting for a father opposing the mother’s application for permission to relocate the parties’ two year old son to Hong Kong (her home country where her family resided).  Advising the father in relation to both the complex financial issues and the international relocation dispute, providing him with continuity of representation. The Judge refused the mother’s permission to relocate and ordered an increase in contact with our client, so that the father would effectively share the child’s care with the mother.  This was a life-changing result for our client and his son.
  • Acting for a mother seeking to relocate with her teenagers to Germany.  The case, described by the judge as “finely balanced”, involved instructing an independent social worker to give her recommendations about the benefits of the move.

WHAT IS SAID ABOUT US

"It's a team that has a great breadth of experience across the board and particularly in international cases."

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

"I always think of them as having a Rolls-Royce service but they are particularly good when there's a European element to the case."

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

"Very strong litigation practice, with some of the best up-and-coming stars of tomorrow"

Legal 500 UK

"A standout firm"

Legal 500 UK

"Professional yet sympathetic manner and the team always fights hard to defend your interests"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

 

If you require further information or advice from our team of specialist family lawyers, please contact a member of our team or call us on +44 (0)20 7814 1200. 

Moving your children abroad after separation

"They made a very difficult time much easier to deal with. Their professionalism kept me sane and focused on the outcome I needed"

Client

"It's a team that has a great breadth of experience across the board and particularly in international cases"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

"All have been excellent and have shown great diligence and practicality, along with sensitivity during a very difficult time in my life"

Client

"Rolls-Royce service and particularly good when there's a European element to the case"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

"A standout firm"

Legal 500 UK

"Professional yet sympathetic manner and the team always fights hard to defend your interests"

Chambers UK, A Client's Guide to the UK Legal Profession

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Let us take it from here.

+44 (0)20 7814 1200

enquiries@kingsleynapley.co.uk

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