Ian Walker

Ian Walker – Founder/ Director/ Solicitor/ Mediator/ Arbitrator

Relocation – Within UK

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 legal 500 leading firm logoagreement 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 moves within the UK were treated differently to relocation outside of the UK

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.

What the law says about internal relocation

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):

  1. is the mother’s application genuine in the sense that it is not motivated by some selfish desire to exclude the father from the child’s life?
  2. is the mother’s application realistically founded on practical proposals both well researched and investigated?
  3. what would be the impact on the mother, either as the single parent or as a new wife, of a refusal of her realistic proposal?
  4. is the father’s opposition motivated by genuine concern for the future of the child’s welfare or is it driven by some ulterior motive?
  5. what would be the extent of the detriment to him and his future relationship with the child were the application granted?
  6. to what extent would that detriment be offset by extension of the child’s relationships with the maternal family and homeland?
  7. since the circumstances in which such decisions have to be made vary infinitely and the judge in each case has to be free to decide whatever is in the best interests of the child, such guidance should not be applied rigidly as if it contains principles from which no departure is permitted
  8. there is no legal principle, let alone some legal or evidential presumption, in favour of an application to relocate by a primary carer. The old statements which seem to favour applications to relocate made by primary carers are no more than a reflection of the reality of the human condition and the parent-child relationship
  9. the hearing must not get mired in taxonomical arguments or preliminary skirmishes as to what label should be applied to the case by virtue of either the time spent with each of the parents or other aspects of the care arrangements

These cases can be extremely emotive. Anyone who is thinking of relocating or faced with the possibility of a relocation should seek legal advice.

These cases do not have to end up in court

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.

More on this topic

Judicial Protocol for Children’s Cases in Scotland, and England and Wales
Judicial Protocol for Children’s Cases in Scotland, and England and Wales

Here is a link to the 2018 protocol

Read more
Contact us to make an appointment
Contact us to make an appointment

Here is a link to our contact page

Read more
Team
Team

Meet our team of children law experts

Read more
Children Law
Children Law

We are experts in the law relating to children

Read more

Latest News

National Adoption Week

In the UK, there are thousands of children in care in need of a forever family. In response, a new national recruitment campaign has been launched by Adoption UK. National Adoption Week, #YouCanAdopt aims to breakdown stereotypes around who

Read more
Two into one won’t go: Dividing assets in a small money case

Dividing assets. It is relatively rare for a financial remedies case involving small or modest assets to be reported. However, a report of the judgment in such a case was published last week, it contains lessons for all divorcing couples

Read more
More, longer, cases: Is the court system broken?

The family court system has been under increasing pressure for years, suffering from rising caseloads, closing courts and lack of resources, amongst other problems. Is the court system broken?

Read more
The firm is recognised nationally at The Law Society Awards

Founder and MD Ian Walker won in the Sole Practitioner of the Year category at The Law Society Awards and the firm were highly commended in the Excellence in Practice Management category.

Read more
Inclusion Week 2021

This week is National Inclusion Week which is designed to celebrate everyday inclusion in all of it's forms. This year's theme is based on unity so some of our team got together to create a video

Read more
We are delighted to win two legal awards

Ian Walker Family Law and Mediation Solicitors are thrilled to have won two awards at the Devon and Somerset Law Society Legal Awards this month. Kim Stradling, leading child law expert & founder, Mediator and Solicitor Ian Walker also won

Read more
I believe the other parent is taking drugs – what can I do?

Misuse of illegal drugs is sadly an issue that is commonly raised in disputes between parents over arrangements for their children. But what can you do if you suspect that the other parent is taking drugs?

Read more
Wives don’t have to lose out on pensions when they divorce

The University of Manchester published a report analysing data on pensions and divorce. Husbands have substantially more private pension wealth than wives. Wives don’t have to lose out on pensions when they divorce.

Read more
Divorce moves fully online

HM Courts and Tribunals Service (‘HMCTS’), which is responsible for the administration of the courts in England and Wales, has announced that as from today, 13th September, lawyers acting for clients in divorce proceedings must use the

Read more
We are recruiting – Receptionist / Legal Secretary / Administrator

We are recruiting – Receptionist/Legal Secretary/Administrator. We are an award winning specialist Family Law Solicitors Practice; Modern Law Boutique Practice (11+ Employees) 2020.

Read more
Court fees to rise despite opposition

The Government has indicated that it intends to go ahead with court fee increases, despite widespread opposition to the move. The decision comes in response to a consultation carried out by the Ministry of Justice

Read more
Is Plymouth a divorce hotspot?

It has been reported that Plymouth is one of the top ten cities in the country for people searching the internet for information on divorce. The report suggests that Plymouth, where one of our offices is located, may be a ‘divorce hotspot’.

Read more