Relocation with a child is becoming an increasingly common factor in Family law cases, whether this be an internal relocation within the Court’s jurisdiction of England and Wales, or an external relocation to another country. 

Many families have felt the detrimental impact the Coronavirus pandemic has had on contact with family members living at a distance. This could be one of the reasons relocation applications are increasing; enabling families to move closer to their relatives. 

Whilst relocation applications are becoming more common, they can be some of the most complex and difficult for the Court to navigate. In most cases, an application to relocate will significantly increase the travel for separated parents to facilitate contact arrangements, leading to potential limitation of contact for the other parent, such as weekends and holidays. 

There is also the impact on the child to consider. The child could be moved far away from their current home, meaning a change in school, leaving family and friends and the potential for significant disruption to their lives. 

If parents are in agreement to the proposed relocation, then it does not become a legal issue for the Family Court to consider. If, however, parents are unable to agree to the proposed relocation, the parent wishing to relocate should apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order, seeking for permission to relocate. Alternatively, if a parent is concerned the other parent intends to relocate without agreement of all parties whom hold parental responsibility, then they can also apply to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order. This does not necessarily prevent the relocation, but it prevents the parent from leaving until such time either agreement can be reached, or in lieu of agreement, a Court Order is obtained confirming whether permission for the relocation is or is not granted. 

When making decisions in respect of relocation, the Court’s primary consideration will always be the welfare of the child. The Court will undertake a welfare analysis and consider the factors of the case on its merits, evaluating the advantages and disadvantages or potential relocation, before making a decision. 

If you are concerned about potential relocation of a child, please feel free to liaise with our Practice Manager to obtain an initial consultation to discuss your concerns with our Family Team.  

The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only.

The contents of this post do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only