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Can I Relocate With My Child After Divorce?

Posted: 31st August 2023
Written by: Newtons Family Law Solicitors

Mother and young daughter holding hands and walking away in the countryside after moving to another place following divorce.

As a parent, you may have considered relocating with your child after divorce, whether to be closer to family or a new partner, for work, or for a better quality of life. In most cases, this will have a significant impact on your child and their other parent. As a result, this is a situation that needs to be handled appropriately with the assistance of relevant legal advisors.

Thankfully, our family law specialists are here to explain what you need to know about this challenging scenario.

Can I move with my child without the father’s permission?

Following separation, it is important to seek consent if the father has parental responsibility, whether you are relocating with a child within the UK, or relocating abroad.

It is advised to discuss the relocation with the other parent and check that they support your decision. If the father has parental responsibility and disagrees with the relocation, they would be entitled to carry out legal action to stop you from moving.

Any changes that directly impact a child following a separation or divorce can be detailed in a shared parenting agreement. This can lessen any disagreements that may arise, and ease the transition for all involved.

Communication is critical in this situation; being sneaky or underhanded will not impress a judge should a legal case arise. A shared parenting agreement

How far can a parent move with joint custody in the UK?

While there are no direct restrictions on where, within the UK, you decide to relocate your child, if the other parent (or another person with parental responsibility) wishes to challenge the move, they can apply to the local court for a Prohibited Steps Order or a Child Arrangements Order, which will then decide what will happen. This could prevent you from relocating, but you may be able to oppose this by applying for your own Specific Issue Order.

Whilst a parent can relocate with their child/ren, they would need permission from anyone with parental responsibility to change the child’s school, or in the absence of such consent, leave of the Court (permission of the Court) to change the school. There have been cases where a parent with care has moved only to then be told the child has to return to their school if leave has not been obtained in advance. This forces them to return to the area they have just left until leave from the Court or the consent of others with parental responsibility has been obtained.

International Relocation

If you want to relocate outside of the UK, you must receive consent from the parent if they have parental responsibility. Once you have their consent, you can apply to their Court for permission. The Court’s final decision will ultimately fall upon what is best for the child.

Without the other parent’s consent, relocating with your child outside of the UK will require an application to the Courts. Failing to apply for a Special Issue Order and ignoring your co-parent’s wishes could land you in heavy trouble, including prosecution for child abduction, and being forced to return your child.

In any relocation cases, the Court will always prioritise what is best for the child – this is known as the ‘paramountcy principle’.

What happens if my child has been taken without my consent?

If your ex-partner has relocated with your child without your consent, you should speak to a family law solicitor as soon as possible. They can assist you with the best course of action to take. For example, they can help you to apply to your local court for the following:

  • Third-Party Disclosure Orders, which require a third party to disclose any information about the child’s whereabouts.
  • Collection Order
  • Police involvement

Can I move with my child without the father’s permission if we were never married?

Anyone with parental responsibility for their child will be able to have a say over where they live. Therefore, any mother, father, or other guardians who have parental responsibility can influence the relocation process. If one of the parents’ names is not on the birth certificate, it will be much harder for them to stop their child from being relocated.

Relocation with your child after divorce: what you should consider

Relocation is a big deal – for both you and your child. This isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly. Two of the most important things to consider before taking the plunge are:

  • The other parent

One of the most crucial elements you need to take into consideration is where your ex-partner will fit into all of this. In most cases, the other parent should be present in your child’s life. Plan when face-to-face meetings with the other parent would happen, thinking about costs, travel, and communication. Having this information agreed upon is key as the Court will need to ensure that the relocation is not an attempt to prohibit the other parent from seeing your child.

  • Your child’s well-being

Relocation can be hugely challenging for children, primarily because you are turning what they know upside down and adding distance between them and their other parent. You need to communicate with your child as clearly as possible when considering relocation and be open to listening to their thoughts and feelings. This is even more crucial if you are moving to a country with a different language, as language barriers can be challenging to tackle and may put a strain on your child’s well-being when it comes to making friends.

Newtons Solicitors is here to help

Here at Newtons Solicitors, we know how emotionally challenging separation can be for parents and how adding relocation to the mix can make things even more complicated. Our team of family and child law solicitors is happy to help guide you through this process and obtain the best outcome for you and your children.

If you are considering relocating with your child after divorce, or if your ex-partner is trying to move away with your child, please contact us today.