If it is not possible to reach agreement whether one parent can relocate abroad with the children of the relationship, researching and preparing your case thoroughly, with the benefit of specialist legal advice, is key to the best chance of success in the court process. What sort of information will be required?
If you want to take your children to live abroad, against the wishes of the other parent, or if you are seeking to oppose such a move by your former partner, you should view court proceedings for leave to remove as the last resort.
Such court applications are stressful, expensive and destructive of cooperative parenting arrangements. Do everything you can to try and agree matters between yourselves – you might want to consider family mediation or using the collaborative law process to discuss the difficult issues that arise in a non-confrontational way with the other parent.
However, should this not prove possible, researching and preparing your case meticulously is key to the best chance of a successful outcome using the court process. Your lawyers will play a crucial role in the presentation of this information and advising you how to conduct yourself up to and including the crucial Final Hearing - whether you are the parent who wishes to relocate, or the “left behind” parent. Because international leave to remove/ relocation of children is a very specialised area of family law, it is advisable to consult solicitors with particular expertise in this field.
What sort of information will be required in preparing your case?
If you are a parent seeking to move abroad with your children, you will need to address issues such as:
- your reasons and motivation for the proposed relocation
- housing arrangements in the new country
- schools/educational arrangements in the new country
- childcare arrangements/support network in the new country
- your links, if any, to the new country
- healthcare arrangements in the new country
- how any immigration or visa issues will be dealt with
- information about any new partner/spouse and his/her employment in the new country
- financial issues, demonstrating that the proposed move is financially viable
- any cultural, racial, language, or religious issues
- the wishes and feelings of each of the children in relation to the proposed move
- crucially - how you will promote and support the relationship between the children and the other parent: the practical arrangements you will put in place to ensure regular indirect and face-to-face contact takes place and how face-to-face contact will be funded
- what the emotional effect on you of refusal to relocate abroad would be
- what the effect on the children of refusal of permission to relocate would be.
If you are a parent opposed to the children relocating abroad, you will need to deal with issues such as:
- the effect of the proposed relocation and the reduction of face-to-face contact on the relationship between the children and yourself
- the current contact arrangements and your involvement in the care and upbringing of the children
- scrutiny of the other parent’s proposed relocation plan including: the network of support or lack of it; educational arrangements in the new country, compared to the current arrangements; financial issues, including the costs of maintaining contact in the new country; language, religious and cultural differences
- any other concerns about the new country e.g. economic/political instability, lack of long-term employment prospects etc
- each child’s wishes and feelings about the proposed relocation and/or wish to remain in the UK and the impact the proposed relocation will have on each of them
- the links the child has and the loss he/she will suffer of significant relationships with friends and the wider family and everything else the child has in the UK, including significant hobbies and other interests
- the likely emotional effect of the proposed relocation on you and each of the children.
Statements will also need to be prepared on behalf of new partners and other members of your extended family.
This information first appeared in an article written for Wealth for Women. The full text of that article can be read here.
Maeve O'Higgins (firstname.lastname@example.org), tel 020 7539 4133 Family Law Partner, Moon Beever Solicitors
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.