Family Law Blog

Relocating with children within England & Wales

17 July 2014, by Taylor King Family Law Solicitors

A parent with primary care does not have to apply to the court for permission to relate within the UK. However, it is a matter of good parenting to notify the other parent and to provide details of the proposed move well in advance.

If a parent proposes to move a child from England and Wales to another part of the UK, e.g. Scotland and does not have the consent of the other parent the parent wishing to move should apply for a specific issue order.

If the other parent does not want the child to move he or she can apply to the court either for a prohibited steps order to prevent the other party from moving with the child or to impose a condition to a residence order (now called a child arrangements order). This condition may prevent a parent moving the child from a specific geographical area. It was previously the case that it was only in exceptional circumstances that a court would impose a condition on a parent restricting their right to choose their place of residence.

The welfare of the child is the court’s paramount consideration. The court must look at all the circumstances and facts of the case to make a decision about whether a relocation is in the child’s best interests. Even where there is a shared parenting arrangement in place this will not prevent the court from allowing a parent and child to relocate.

Case study

In a case in 2012 the mother wished to relocate from Tooting to Norwich. The father had weekly contact from Saturday morning until Sunday evening. The father raised concerns about the mother’s mental health and applied for a prohibited steps order. The father’s contact was extended to three days per week pending the final hearing. A psychologist’s report disclosed no concerns about the mother’s mental health. The prohibited steps order was discharged and the contact arrangements varied to alternate weekends.

The father appealed. This was unsuccessful. Despite the fact that the father had had a recent increase in contact the mother was the primary carer. Her wish to relocate was reasonable to improve her job prospects and to  move away from the father’s oppressive, controlling behaviour. The judge specifically considered the impact on the child with regard to contact and was reassured that the mother would continue to promote contact between the father and the child. The Court of Appeal reinforced the finding of the judge that the welfare of the child is always paramount.

If you wish to move with your child or children and the other parent is  not in agreement then please contact us to advise and assist you.