INTERNATIONAL LEAVE TO REMOVE
RELOCATION OF CHILDREN

the law and practice about relocating a child from the UK

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Leave to remove cases: the stats

A research study on internal and international relocation cases, published in 2013 by Dr Rob George (a barrister and university lecturer in family law), resulted in the following findings:

  • the average age of the children was about 7 (although international relocation cases tended to involve more preschool children than internal relocation cases)
  • 70% of the international relocation cases were brought by applicants who were not British nationals, most of them seeking to relocate to their original home countries (the classic “going home” cases)
  • 95% of the applications for relocation were brought by mothers, most of whom were the children's primary carers
  • The overall success rate for international cases varied from 59.6% in the questionnaire sample to 71.9% in the case sample*
  • about 5% of the cases involved 50-50 shared childcare arrangements
  • A further 20% of the cases involved unequal sharing of childcare, with at least one third of nights being spent by the children with each parent
  • cases where the children spent frequent overnight time with both their parents were less likely to succeed than cases where there was little or no overnight time with the other parent, but whether the overnight time amounted to equal shared care appeared to make little difference to the outcome
  • The ages of the children involved appeared to make no statistical difference to the outcome (somewhat surprisingly)
  • applicant parents who were in a long-term relationship (usually married to their new partner) had a higher chance of success than single parent applicants
  • The greater the proposed geographical distance involved for an international relocation, the less likely it was to be allowed (“shorthaul relocations”: to another European country were more likely to be allowed than “longhaul relocations” to North America, which in turn were more likely to be allowed than relocations to Australia or New Zealand)
  • Findings in relation to the applicant parent's reasons for seeking to relocate were not conclusive, other than that “lifestyle” cases had a significantly lower chance of success than cases involving other reasons for seeking to relocate internationally.

The study looked at 96 international relocation cases and 22 internal relocation cases, decided during 2012, together with questionnaire responses from 187 family lawyers giving information about their most recent relocation case. The information was then subjected to statistical analysis in order to discern possible patterns.

Maeve O'Higgins (mohiggins@moonbeever.com)
Family Law Partner, Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator

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.