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Can my ex take my child to live in another country?

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Each year, when the school summer holidays are nearly upon us, child custody solicitors see a rise in enquiries about whether an ex-partner can take a child to live in another country. The increase in queries about custody when parents live in different countries UK and relocating abroad with a child after a separation or divorce at this time of year appears to be down to timing. Most parents who want to relocate overseas with their children after a separation or divorce want the child to finish their summer school term in the UK and to settle in a new country and school by the date of the new school year in September.

The question “can I move abroad with my child?” is not always straightforward for a child law solicitor to answer. That is because the answer depends on:

• Who else has parental responsibility for the child or who, even if they do not have parental responsibility, has a relationship with the child and might object to the move abroad; and

• Does the English court have jurisdiction over the child? The family court will have court jurisdiction to decide if the child should move overseas or not even if parents and child are not British citizens. That is because court jurisdiction is not based on nationality or British Citizenship but if the child is habitually resident in the UK.

How can OTS Solicitors help?

As specialist London child custody solicitors, OTS Solicitors work with international families to help resolve their family law and Immigration law concerns. The child law team at OTS Solicitors have substantial experience in advising and representing many parents who want to move abroad with their children or who object to their children moving overseas. These types of children court applications are highly charged and emotive. That is why families need pragmatic but tenacious representation to ensure that they secure the best outcome.
For information about how the child custody solicitors at OTS Solicitors can help you with your planned move overseas or to stop a child being taken abroad to live then please, call us on 0203 959 9123.
When a parent first finds out that their ex-partner wants to take their child to live in another country there can be a lot of feelings of hurt, upset and anger. A feeling of rejection can be experienced if the child has been told of the plans to move to live in a new country and is excited to go. Often a child is caught up in the glamour of the planned move. The thought of better weather or promised attractions in the new country often mean that the child has not thought through how the move will affect them and how they will miss their other parent, any half siblings, grandparents and school friends. Child custody solicitors know that it is tempting for a parent to tell the child the realities of what life could be like in a new country, without weekly contact with mum or dad but they urge caution in trying to influence a child too hard as that can backfire on a parent in subsequent court proceedings.

UK law on taking children abroad to live

The UK law on taking a child overseas to live is complicated but in essence, if the court has jurisdiction over the child, then one parent cannot take the child abroad to live unless they have the other parent with parental responsibility’s agreement to the move or a court order.
If one parent wants to move abroad with their child and the other parent objects to the child being taken out of the UK to live in another country there are a number of potential outcomes:

• The parent who wants to move to a different country with their child could ask for the written agreement of the other parent and anyone else with parental responsibility for the child. If there is agreement to the move the parent can move overseas with the child. It is vital that the agreement is in writing and states that the move overseas is a permanent move and not just for the purposes of a holiday or an extended stay;

• If there is an objection to the move to a different country, an application can be made to the family court for permission to take the child overseas to live or the other parent could apply to court for an order prohibiting the child being taken out of the UK.

• If agreement of the other parent or court order is not forthcoming, then the parent can still move abroad but without the child – whilst the other parent can object to a child moving overseas they cannot stop their ex-partner from leaving the UK without the child;

• The parent moves abroad with the child without the other parent’s agreement or a UK court order giving permission for the child’s relocation – that may amount to the criminal offence of child abduction and potentially could lead to the child being brought back to the UK under the Hague Convention.

There are many reasons why parents want to move abroad with a child including:

• If one parent wants to take the child back to their country of origin;

• A parent wants to make a fresh start in a new country after a difficult separation or divorce;

• A parent has met a new partner who is from overseas and wants to return to their country for work or family reasons or because their UK visa and right to live and work in the UK has expired;

• A parent has been transferred overseas with their work;

• A parent wants to move for lifestyle reasons, believing that a different country has a better, healthier environment in which to bring a child up in comparison to London or the rest of the UK.

Whatever the parent’s motivation behind the move the thought of a child being taken abroad to live can devastate a parent. However, top London child custody solicitors say that the reason behind the planned move is important and can affect whether or not a parent is given permission to take the child abroad to live.

Can I stop my ex take my child to live in another country?

If a parent fears that one parent wants to take their child abroad to live without their agreement or bothering to apply for a court order for permission to take the child abroad to live, then they can apply to court for a prohibited steps order to prohibit the parent from taking the children out of the UK. Child custody solicitors say that it is important that the evidence of the proposed move is assessed before making the court application but in urgent cases child law solicitors can act fast to get an order to stop the child’ s removal.
If a parent wants to move overseas with their child, they can apply for court permission to do so. If a parent objects to the move, they can oppose the application. The parent who opposes the court application can also ask the court to order that the children live with them under a child arrangements order. This type of order is like the old style custody order or residence order. Even if a parent is not successful in stopping their child moving abroad to live then they can ask the court to make an order for access or contact with the child. A child arrangements order can specify the contact and whether the contact should take place in the UK or overseas.

How does a court decide a child relocation application?

When a court is deciding on whether a child should move abroad to live with one parent after a separation or divorce, the court has to consider what it thinks is in the children’s best interests taking into account factors known as the “welfare checklist”.
Usually when a court makes a decision about a child’s welfare the child’s best interests are the courts paramount consideration. When a judge is asked to decide whether to allow a child to live abroad with one parent, the child’s interests are not paramount, as the court has to consider the effect of granting or refusing the application on both the mother and father. That is why it is important that parents take legal advice from child law solicitors before making or opposing a court application to make sure that they focus on the best points in their case to secure their goal.

How can OTS Solicitors help?

If you are a parent considering moving abroad with a child or a parent facing a relocation court application, then the best option is to get early child law legal advice. That is because preparation is the key to successfully making or opposing a relocation application.
The child custody solicitors at OTS Solicitors advise on all aspects of children and family law. The team has substantial experience in helping parents resolve children law issues with pragmatic advice, negotiation or representation in court proceedings. Whatever your child law concern, the children law team at OTS Solicitors will work with you to help find a solution and resolve parenting arrangements. Please get in touch with us on 0203 959 9123 to arrange an appointment to speak to one of our experienced child law solicitors.

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