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Preparing your case for court

Whether you are a parent seeking to relocate permanently abroad with your children or a parent who is opposed to the children moving abroad with your former partner, researching and preparing your case thoroughly in support of or against the proposed relocation will be key to your success or otherwise.

The role of your lawyers will be vital in the presentation of this information, so as to give you the best chance of success in the court process.

The usual reasons for wanting to relocate abroad

a) "Going home" cases – where a parent wishes to return to her country of origin where she will have the practical and emotional support of her family and friends, after the breakdown of her marriage/relationship.

b) "New partner" cases – where a parent has a new partner or spouse who comes from another country and/or her new partner has obtained a new job opportunity in another country and she wishes to move abroad to live with her new partner in the new country.

c) New job opportunity – where a parent wishes to move abroad in order to take up a better job opportunity there.

d) "Lifestyle" cases – where a parent wishes to move to a new country to which she has no close connection but she feels will offer a better quality of life or better life chances for herself and her children than remaining where she is currently living. Whilst the Court of Appeal have stated in cases such as Re B (Leave to Remove: Impact of Refusal) in 2004 that such lifestyle cases do not face any additional legal hurdles, it is generally more difficult for the applicant to obtain permission to relocate in a lifestyle case, than in the other three main categories.

It is important that both parents demonstrate that their motivation is genuine and, in the case of a parent who seeks to relocate, is not motivated by a wish to impede the relationship between the children and the other parent and, in the case of the parent opposing the relocation, that he or she is not motivated by the desire to make life difficult for the other parent.

How to prepare if you are a parent seeking to move abroad with your children:
If you are a parent seeking to move abroad with your children, a very detailed Statement in support of your application demonstrating that the proposed relocation plan is well thought out, thoroughly prepared and investigated will need to be prepared, with supporting documents.

The statement should include some/all of the following:

a) An explanation of your reasons and motivation for the proposed relocation.

b) Information about your accommodation in the new country.

c) Proposed educational arrangements for each of the children.

d) Financial issues demonstrating that the proposed move is financially viable.

e) How childcare will be organised in the new country, including details of the support network you will have there.

f) Your links (if any) to the new country, including statements from family and friends.

g) The healthcare arrangements in the new country, how it will be funded and dealing with any particular health issues that any of the children have.

h) Any immigration or visa issues and how these will be dealt with.

i) Details of any new partner (spouse) and his/her job in the new country. A Statement will need to be prepared by your new partner if you have one and he or she will need to attend the Final Court Hearing.

j) Any special factors such as cultural, racial, language or religious issues.

k) The wishes and feelings of each of the children in relation to the proposed move, addressing any possible objections that any of the children have.

l) Contact between the children and the other parent. Crucially, your statement needs to demonstrate your commitment to promoting the relationship between the children and the other parent, in the event of your relocation. You need to set out in detail the practical arrangements you will put in place to ensure that direct and indirect contact takes place regularly, together with an explanation of how the costs of contact will be paid for.

m) The emotional effect on you of any refusal of permission to move abroad.

n) What the effect on the children of the refusal of permission to relocate would be.

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How to prepare if you are a parent opposed to the children relocating abroad
Your statement should deal with issues such as:

1) The effect of the proposed relocation and the reduction of contact between the children and yourself including practical difficulties such as time differences, long journeys for the children, difficulties taking time off work etc.

2) The current arrangements for contact between yourself and the children and your involvement in the care and upbringing of the children, any difficulties for you and the other parent co-parenting and the way in which you and the other parent could continue to co-parent in the UK, in the event that the relocation does not take place.

3) Scrutinise the other parent's proposed relocation plan very carefully including:

• The network of support or lack of it;

• Educational arrangements and their suitability or otherwise for each individual child, as compared to the current arrangements;

• Financial issues, including the costs of maintaining contact with the children in the new country; language, religious and cultural differences in the new country.

4) Any other concerns about the new country e.g. political instability, economic instability, crime levels, lack of long term job prospects etc.

5) Each child's wishes and feelings about the proposed relocation and wish to remain here (if that is the case).

6) The links the child has and loss of significant relationships with friends and the wider family (including grandparents) should be emphasised as well as the loss of everything else the child has in the UK, including significant hobbies, sporting activities, and other interests.

7) The likely emotional effect on the children of the relocation and on yourself.

Statements should also be obtained from other members of your extended family and/or friends who have close involvement with the children, dealing with the impact of the proposed relocation, including any particular difficulties friends and family members would have visiting the children in the new country.

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