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Relocating With Children After Divorce - What Does the Law Say?

Updated: Dec 21, 2021

After a divorce has been finalised, there are several things you must consider in your future planning. If children have now become part of a blended family, within shared parental responsibility of both parents, questions are certain to arise when one parent considers moving away to start a new life. You may be wondering, what does the law say in this matter?

Do you need permission to relocate?

With parental responsibility you are entitled to move with a child within the UK without the need to obtain consent of the non-resident parent. The challenge comes when you wish to gain approval of your move from your ex-partner. Speaking with them and discussing the logistics of your child arrangements is the best way to deal with this situation. In many cases, parents will spring this upon their ex-partners, leaving them in the dark, with no where to turn but the courts. If a party feels a relocation will interfere with the contact they currently have with their children, they can apply to the courts to prevent your move. The court will only look at this case and prevent the move if it is not within the best interests of the children involved.

Moving within the UK

If you choose to stay within the UK, this situation may be slightly easier. Especially if you are within a reasonable distance of the other parent. However, your ex-partner may believe you are moving beyond reach, which could limit his/her contact with their children.

Moving Abroad

Wishing to move abroad with children you share parental responsibility with, is a much more complicated legal discussion. If the UK family court has jurisdiction over the child and both parents have parental responsibility for the child, one parent cannot leave the UK to move abroad. This is unless the other parent has given their consent, or a court order is in place which allows the relocation.

For one parent the decision to relocate abroad could be for more than just a new lifestyle, for example:

  • The parent wishes to return to family in their country of birth

  • A new partner is living overseas, and the parent wishes to join them

  • The parent has been transferred overseas for work

  • They wish to make a fresh start in a new country where they can leave bad memories of a broken relationship and difficult divorce behind

Although there may be a number of reasons why a person would choose to relocate abroad with their child, a court may take this into consideration when deciding to offer permission to do so.

Advice and Guidance from a Family Law Solicitor

It is really important in whatever position you find yourself within this situation that you seek the advice and guidance of a family law solicitor. They can help to provide the legal information to support your case either for or against the relocation. For a Cheshire based family law solicitor, experienced in complex and detailed cases of divorce and family separation, look no further than Carole Nettleton.

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