Relocation Disputes- what you need to know:

Posted on February 15, 2017

What is a ‘relocation dispute’?

A relocation dispute is where one of the parents wants to move away with the child; however, the other parent disagrees. Cases of relocation disputes have been rapidly on the rise, largely because of increased levels of migration, with cross- border migration doubling since 1980, supported further by the fact that in 2007, 13% of marriages in the EU were between partners of different nationalities. The law governing these disputes has changed a lot in the last few years.

Historical approach:

In the past, the approach taken by the courts was different for international relocations (where the parent and child wanted to move abroad), and internal relocations (relocating within the UK).

In an international relocation case, court consent was required, and if not obtained, could mean that the parent was guilty of child abduction which is a criminal offence. The consent would either be granted by a court order; or if a child arrangements order existed over the child and the parents, by a removal of this order. For internal relocations, there was no automatic restriction in place to prohibit internal relocation by the parent, but the court had power to impose such a restriction.

Issues with these approaches in the past, stemmed from how rigidly they were being followed by the courts, and from the lack of guidance as to how the approach for international and internal cases should be different.

There is a shift in approach by the Courts in how to decide these cases:

The test is now much broader, giving thought to any factors which may affect the welfare of the child. Factors are considered on a case- by- case basis, as ultimately each scenario will be different.

Things the Court now considers in these cases:

The below bullet points, form considerations which the court will take into account when establishing if relocating would be in the best interests of the child’s welfare.

  • The motivation behind the parent’s intention move- do they simply want to disrupt contact with the other parent?
  • Motivation of the parent challenging the move- are they simply trying to show control over the former partner, or do they have the best interests of their child at heart?
  • How much planning has been put into the proposed relocation?
  • Proposals put forward by each parent regarding the continued involvement of the other parent, if their proposal is accepted
  • The child’s own wishes- these will take on more importance as the child gets older

How this affects you:

It is therefore more important than ever to look to obtain professional legal advice on such matters as they are very complex and there will be a lot at stake.

Speak to an expert today

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