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How can a parent apply to move away with children after separation or divorce?

When parents cannot reach an agreement upon relocating or moving away with children after separation or divorce, our Family Law Team are often called upon to assist either parent in trying to resolve the issue.

As the stakes are quite high in such cases for both parents, they do frequently need a decision of the Court – a relocating parent applying for a Specific Issue Order to get permission to relocate, or, conversely, the parent being left behind may applying for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent the move.

For parents who are understandably unsure about dealing with court proceedings so that they can relocate with their child, we’ve outlined some of the most important factors to consider.

Astle Paterson gives advice when moving away with children after divorce

Will the court grant my application?

If you’re considering moving away with children, the factors which the Court consider in deciding such delicate cases are as follows:

  • The Housing available in the new location;
  • Existing ties, family or friends in the new location;
  • Quality of health care and schooling;
  • The effect of a refusal to allow the application on the relocating parent;
  • The impact on the children’s relationship and contact with the parent left behind;
  • Employment opportunities for the relocating parent;
  • What the transport links are like to enable ongoing contact with the parent left behind.

As the factors for consideration are so specific, the Court require a detailed statement from the relocating parent to demonstrate that they have considered all of the factors before moving away with children after separation or divorce. Any application must be very carefully drafted and prepared, containing exhibits to show that there has been a genuine and thorough review of the new area, with the genuine conclusion that the relocation is in the best interest of the child(ren).

A proposed move that has not been fully thought through as regards the above factors, or seems to be due to any selfish wish to move to jeopardise the relationship between the child(ren) and the parent left behind, would likely fail. It therefore follows that, if the relocating parent wishes to ensure the co-operation of the other parent, it is often good practice to send the statement and any supporting documents to them ahead of issuing proceedings.

Moving away with children after divorce

The Law

The law on this issue is covered in the case of Re TC and JC(Children: Relocation) [2013] EWHC 292(Fam). In this case, the Courts reviewed the legal framework dealing with the previously often-cited case of Payne v Payne [2001] EWCA Civ 166 and K v K (Relocation: Shared care arrangement) [2011] EWCA Civ 793.

The main point from the Judgement is that the paramount consideration in relocation is the welfare of the child – and this overshadows all other factors, no matter how persuasive. The Courts gave guidance as to matters which must be weighed in evidence in deciding the case.

The main factors can be summarised with the following questions:

  • Is the relocation application genuine, and not an attempt to exclude the other parent from the child’s life?
  • Is the application based on realistic proposals that have been thoroughly reviewed and researched?

There is no legal presumption in favour of or against a relocation. Each case is weighed on its facts in terms of what is best for the child(ren).

Are you considering moving away with children?

If you are thinking about relocating with your children, please be aware that these cases can be highly charged and emotional matters, and as such they must be handled delicately. Our Family Law Team at Astle Paterson have a long history of such cases; they have the required expertise to represent you, advise, guide and support you.

If you’re considering moving away with children after divorce, call us now on 01283 531366 and book a fixed fee initial interview with a member of the team.

Or enquire now using the form below:



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