Leave to removeBlog Archive

The impact of Brexit on International Child Relocation (Leave to Remove)

 12 July 2016
There are considerable uncertainties surrounding Brexit, not least the question of whether non-British EU nationals who have lived in the country for less than five years will have the right to remain. What are the implications for separated or divorced parents?

It is estimated that there are about 3 million non-British EU nationals living in the UK at present. Those who have been living here for at least five years will have the right to remain after the UK ceases to be a member of the EU, but what about those who have been here for a shorter period? Whether they will be allowed to remain living in the UK may depend on the success of future negotiations to protect the position of British nationals currently living in other European countries with the remaining EU countries.  

Some EU nationals in the UK may not be prepared to await the outcome of the negotiations, preferring instead to make arrangements now to protect the future of themselves and their families. Many have been shocked by the overt xenophobia of the leave campaign and how successful it has been. Some may decide to leave the UK now, whether to relocate back to their home countries or to make their home in other foreign jurisdictions.

Some of these EU nationals will be separated or divorced parents, and if the other parent does not agree to the children of the relationship relocating from the UK, the departing parent may be surprised to discover that they are not allowed to relocate the children of the relationship automatically and that they will need to obtain permission ("leave to remove") from the court. Such legal proceedings can be very stressful as well as expensive and destructive of the coparenting relationship, which may have been very amicable and constructive up to now.

Generally it is much easier (because of the distance involved) to obtain permission to relocate to other European countries than to say the US, or even further afield, to Australia or New Zealand, but each case will be decided on its own unique facts and the welfare of the children will be paramount in making the decision.

Maeve O'Higgins Family Law Partner, Burlingtons Legal | Email: maeve.ohiggins@burlingtonslegal.com, Tel: +44 (0) 207 529 5420

This blog is intended for general information only and should not be considered as giving advice in relation to any individual case nor be taken as applying to any particular case. No liability is accepted for any such use of the information contained.