If you are separated or divorced, and want to move abroad with your children to live in another country permanently, you must first obtain the written permission of the other parent, and/or any other person who has parental responsibility for the child.

If any other person with parental responsibility will not give their consent to the children moving abroad with you, it is recommended that you first take further steps to try to negotiate the matter amicably, for example by offering that they can spend additional time with the children during the holidays, or by arranging and attending mediation. If they still do not provide their consent, then you may wish to make an application to the court for permission. This is known as a ‘leave to remove’ or ‘relocation’ application. If the court gives you permission to move abroad, you no longer require the permission of the other party with parental responsibility.

Before making an application to Court, you will need to consider the arrangements in detail, as the Court will need as much information as possible about your plans, including: where you intend to live, details of any work you have arranged, where your child or children will go to school, healthcare arrangements, details of your support network, your plans for how the children will stay in contact with the other parent or wider family, and what it would mean for you if you were prevented from moving.

If your former partner has made an application to relocate with your children to another country and you want to oppose this, you will need to explain why you do not agree, and cover things such as the current contact you have and how this will be affected by a move, any problems with the proposed educational or living arrangements, the wishes of the children and the effect on you of a move.

In deciding whether or not to grant an application for removal, the Court has a checklist of things to consider, including: the wishes and feelings of the children, the children’s physical, emotional and educational needs, the likely effect on the children, the children’s age, sex and background, the risk of the children suffering harm, and how capable each parent is of meeting the children’s needs. The Court will also consider how permission or refusal will affect the parents and the children, and whether the wish to relocate or opposition to it are genuine.

It can be difficult to predict the outcome of an application to remove and you may wish to seek the advice of a solicitor. At Ellisons, we remain committed to helping you during these difficult times and are able to offer initial appointments by telephone. If you would like to talk to one of our family lawyers, please get in touch.