Judicial Protocol for Children’s Cases in Scotland, and England and Wales
Here is a link to the 2018 protocolRead more
Relocation cases can be very difficult and hotly contested. The normal scenario is that one parent wishes to move to a different part of the country or overseas and this is opposed by the other parent because of the disruption that will be caused to their relationship with their children.
This page deals with relocation cases within the UK. There is a page on relocation outside of the UK here.
If there is an existing Child Arrangements Order and the parent wishes to relocate the child outside of the UK – then they need to obtain the permission of the other parent – or a new court order.
There is no equivalent provision for relocation within the UK – but if there is an existing Child Arrangements Order which sets out arrangements by which children spend time with the parent who is not moving – then the order will need to be varied.
It is generally expected that a parent who has parental responsibility for their children should consult with and reach agreement with others with parental responsibility – which would normally include the other parent and seek agreement prior to the move.
A unilateral move where the other parent has not been consulted or even notified will normally be frowned upon by the court.
Here is a link to the judicial protocol which relates to moves between England and Wales, and Scotland and vice versa.
Historically the court would only restrict a parent’s right to live anywhere in the UK in exceptional circumstances. This interpretation of the law was reviewed by the Court of Appeal in 2015 and the Court of Appeal took the view that the law relating to internal relocation cases within the UK and external/international relocation cases was the same.
Essentially the law is that the court will apply the welfare checklist in the Children Act to the specific facts of each individual case.
In other words, the move needs to be justified on the basis that it is in the child’s welfare. The court will therefore be extremely interested in the impact of the move on the relationship between the child and their other parent.
The court clearly has a lot of discretion and success or failure of an application will depend upon how well the evidence in support of the move or against the move is put together and how well the case is presented.
Whilst the law is broad – the courts have from time to time given guidance as to how each application might be considered. This page was written in December 2020. At this time the guidance suggests that the judge considering the case should ask the following questions to help them clarify whether the move is justified and in the child’s interests:
(the questions are framed on the basis that the child’s mother is seeking to move the child):
These cases can be extremely emotive. Anyone who is thinking of relocating or faced with the possibility of a relocation should seek legal advice.
If the court allows the move or if the move is agreed – how contact arrangements work will in the future be a significant consideration. Whatever is agreed or ordered – the parents will then need to make work (for the benefit of their children).
If the move is genuinely motivated – then the case could be very suitable for collaborative family law for family mediation. Possibly more for collaborative family law as having the lawyers very much in the process could be extremely valuable/helpful.
But whatever the situation – it must be remembered that all cases are different and specific legal advice should be sought.
Here is a link to the 2018 protocolRead more
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