Relocation, Relocation, Relocation

June 22, 2017

Following separation, it is not unusual for one parent to consider relocating, for example to be with a new partner, start a new job or be closer to family members.  If the other parent does not agree to this then an application will have to be made to court. 


International Vs Internal Relocation

Until recently courts have distinguished between applications to move abroad and those to relocate within the UK.  A presumption had emerged that applications to move within the UK would be granted so long as:

  • the move was not intended to frustrate contact with the other parent ;
  • sensible arrangements (e.g.  accommodation, schooling/childcare and employment) had been made; and
  • regular, sustainable and quality contact with the other parent could be maintained.

If the remaining’ parent wished to block the move then it was for them to establish ‘exceptional circumstances’.

Impact on Child

For a child, however, a move to Cornwall from Newcastle can have as great an impact on them and their family life as a move to Spain.  Quite rightly then, the Court of Appeal took the opportunity in 2015 to clarify that applications to relocate should be dealt with in exactly the same manner regardless of the destination.

Welfare of the Child is Paramount

It is now clear that there are only two principles for the court to consider: a) the welfare of the child and b) proportionality.

In each case the court must conduct a thorough evaluation of the welfare issues to determine what is in the child’s best interests.  It must balance all the relevant factors, including the motivations of the parties and their specific proposals but only so much as they feed into the child welfare analysis.  They are not decisive factors in themselves.
In respect of proportionality, the wishes and feelings of the parents and the likely impact on them of granting or refusing an application are important, but where this conflicts with what is in the child’s best interests, the child’s welfare must prevail.

Every case has its own unique set of facts and there is no easy answer but if you are thinking of relocating or are concerned about the other parent relocating, please contact a member of the family team on 0117 929 0451 or email.

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