Internal Children Relocation: The Law on Moving Children Within the UK
July 20, 2022
It is not uncommon for parents to want to relocate within the UK at some stage of their lives. There can be many different reasons for such a move: marriage, offers of employment, proximity to family and friends, lifestyle changes, or escaping domestic abuse. For parents who have separated or divorced, however, any relocation with the children becomes more complicated. While international relocation of one parent with the children (also known as removal) is well regulated by law, internal children relocation to an area within the UK is not always so clear-cut.
Although English and Wales has a separate legal system to Scotland and Northern Ireland, no distinction has been drawn by the law in terms of internal children relocation to any of the four countries within the UK. However, the distance of the proposed move is an important factor in the eyes of the courts.
If the proposed move is relatively local, and as a result has little impact on any child arrangements in place, then it is generally not necessary to obtain the other parent’s consent. The definition of local in relocation cases is something that you can discuss with one of our experienced solicitors. It is standard practice, however, for us to recommend that our clients seek consent from the other parent as a form of good practice, even if it is not strictly required by law.
However, some internal children relocation proposals do require the consent of the other parent or the permission of the court. These include relocation plans that would necessitate a breach in current child arrangements ordered by the court, or where a change in schools is required.
Recent case law has confirmed that the court will consider the welfare and interests of any children first and foremost when deciding whether to give permission to internal moves. However, the interests of the parents will also be considered. Parents who wish to relocate within the UK must therefore consider carefully their reasons for relocation and be prepared to supply evidence of the advantages of any such move on their family as a unit if court proceedings are brought.
If you are a parent who is concerned about the other parent’s plans to relocate internally with your children, you may wish to apply to the Court for a Child Arrangements Order to establish contact or seek an order for the children to reside with yourself. Where justified, you might also be able to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the move entirely. If you discover that the child has already been relocated within the UK and you are seeking the immediate return of the children to the area, you must act promptly to seek urgent legal advice.
At Blackfords LLP, our solicitors are on hand to advise you on the merits of your case and to advise and represent you through any proceedings that might be brought as a result of internal children relocation. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 03330 150150 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org today to arrange your appointment to discuss any family matter enquiry with a member of our well-qualified team.
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