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When a relationship breaks down and children are involved, parents are immediately expected to co parent which can create inevitable difficulties, disagreements and conflict.

Imagine however the situation where one parent wishes to relocate with the children following the Divorce or separation.  Perhaps this is the most emotionally challenging situation that can arise for a separated parent.

The reason for the relocation may be that one party wishes to return to their home country if they are not from the UK or perhaps it may be that they wish to start a new family with a new partner or they consider the move essential for their career.  These situations are clearly not straight forward as one parent’s desire to move can significantly impact the children and their relationship with their parents.

Many parents are not aware that strictly speaking, they are not entitled to take their children out of the country even for a holiday without the permission of the other parent.  They should obtain express, preferably written permission for all family excursions in this respect.  Even where one party has a Court Order which sets out that the children are to live with them, they still will require the express consent of the other parent for a trip abroad that extends over 1 month.  On that basis, a parent who removes a child from the UK without the permission from the other parent is effectively abducting that child even if that child would usually live with them the majority of the same time.  It perhaps goes without saying that child abduction is a criminal offence with potentially serious consequences.

Where one parent wishes to permanently relocate with their children they will need to first seek the consent of the other parent.  Where the other parent does not agree they will need to apply to the Court for permission.

Relocation cases are inevitably difficult as agreements and compromises are often impossible as in most situations the parents are completely opposed to the correct position.  The outcome can be devastating for either parent: either one party is refused permission to relocate and start their new life which they clearly had great intentions to do, or there is one party left behind facing great distance between them and their child and reduced time that they can spend with them.

It is vital to take early legal advice in respect of any relocation either as the party wishing to relocate or the party hoping that the relocation will not take place.

Where one parent does wish to relocate they will need to be able to demonstrate in detail that they have given proper consideration and thought to their proposed relocation and will need to be able to explain where they are going to live, how they will manage financially, who will provide support and care for the child whilst abroad, where the children will be educated and perhaps most importantly, how meaningful contact will be maintained between the child and the parent left behind.

If you have any questions related to this article, or would like advice about arrangements for children do not hesitate to contact one of our Family Law Solicitors. You can make an appointment at Mincoffs Solicitors by calling 0191 212 6151 or emailing ecannell@mincoffs.co.uk.

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