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Child Relocation After Divorce

"Highly experienced and approachable"

Chambers & Partners, 2019

"Highly experienced and approachable"

Chambers & Partners, 2019

Deciding to relocate a child in the UK or abroad following divorce can be difficult. While the law governing child relocation focuses on the welfare of the child, relocating abroad (and potentially within the UK) is not allowed unless agreed to by the other parent or ordered by the court.

The legal process surrounding child relocation can be lengthy and complex, so getting specialist legal advice is recommended. Our expert solicitors can help you if:

Relocation can also have an effect on pre-existing child arrangements such as maintenance payments. For instance, if relocation reduces the amount of time a child spends with the paying parent, the maintenance owed may increase. Issues such as this make obtaining expert legal advice even more important.

We take a no-nonsense approach to cases involving children and will be honest about your prospects from the outset. Many solicitors will tell you what they think you want to hear, which may leave you disappointed further down the line. We often help people who have received bad advice, or whose corner has not been fought by their current lawyer.

Our expert team can also help you access a variety of specialist organisations, including counsellors, family therapists, mediators and NYAS (National Youth Advocacy Service). 

If you'd like a conversation regarding the services we can offer you, please feel free to get in contact now with one of our knowledgeable team. Please call us on 0345 604 4911, or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.


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  • Ros Bever
  • National Head of Family Law
Meet the team
Martin Loxley
Martin Loxley Sheffield

"Absolutely fantastic", "nationally known, pragmatic, and a hard negotiator."

Legal 500, 2016
Child Relocation - More Information
    • What Happens If We Never Married Or Were In A Civil Partnership?
    • If you are unmarried and have parental responsibility, then you have the same rights as any married parent.

      For same sex couples the legal situation is a little more complicated. There have been a number of changes to the law in recent years and child arrangements can depend on how the child was conceived or came into the family.

      If you’re in a same sex relationship and are worried about your parental rights, it’s best to seek advice from a family law specialist before taking any action. Call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

    • Why Choose Irwin Mitchell?
    • We are recognised as one of the UK's leading family law teams by independent legal guides Chambers & Partners and The Legal 500, following decades of experience in dealing with complex cases of divorce, separation and child arrangements. We have dealt with many cases of high-net-worth individuals, as well as ones with an international element. In certain cases our legal teams have successful challenged and changed the law relating to family issues.

      We take a no-nonsense approach when it comes to sorting out child arrangements. We are known for robustly applying the law and will always be honest with you about your case and your prospects, and we are often hired by clients who have received bad advice elsewhere.

      For an open and honest discussion about your case, give our team a call on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

    • How Does The Court Decide Child Arrangements?
    • If you can’t agree the arrangements for your children with your former partner – either between yourselves or through mediation – then the court will need to decide for you.

      The court's main priority when deciding child arrangements is the wellbeing of your children. In most cases, they view children having regular contact with both parents as being best for their wellbeing. The court will also view contact with the child’s extended family (for instance grandparents) as important to their upbringing.

      When deciding the details of a child arrangements order, the court must take into account all of the factors listed in the welfare checklist in Section 2.1 of the Children Act. These include:

      • The child’s wishes and feelings (these are not necessarily a deciding factor)
      • The parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs
      • Any harm or risk of harm to the child
      • The child’s age, sex and background
      • The likely effects of any change to the child’s care arrangements
      • The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs

      Although the court’s decision will be legally binding, you can apply to the court to change the terms of the order in the future (if your circumstances change for instance).

      We have decades of experience as one of the UK's leading family law teams, dealing with many complex separation and child arrangement cases. Call us today on 0345 604 4911, or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

    • Will I Have To Go To Court
    • You do not have to go to court when deciding the arrangements for your children – you do not even need to get a legally recognised agreement in place if you have agreed things amicably, between yourselves.

      However, it can be helpful to get your agreement written down in case things change between you and your former partner in the future. You might decide also to get your agreement approved by the court in a child arrangements order, so it becomes legally binding.

      Even if you can’t agree between yourselves, you may be able to reach an agreement about child arrangements using an out of court process such as mediation. This involves using an impartial third party (a mediator) to help you and your former partner discuss the issues between you, and help you negotiate. 

      The court will usually expect that you’ll have tried to negotiate between yourselves (and to have considered a process such as mediation) before it will hear your case. If you can’t settle your dispute out of court, then you will have to go through the court process where a judge will decide your case for you.

      Our specialist lawyers are experienced in child arrangements and can provide expert advice and support throughout the process. For a consultation about your case, call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

    • Will I Have To See My Former Partner?
    • Where possible, it’s better to maintain a good working relationship with your former partner for the benefit of your children. That’s obviously easier to do if you are able to see and speak to each other about any issues that arise regarding your children’s upbringing.

      We understand that the period following the breakdown of a relationship can be difficult. Where you are finding it hard to communicate with your former partner, a process such as mediation can help you negotiate the future arrangements for your children.

      Mediation works by an impartial third party (a mediator) working with you both to help you come to an agreement. Many couples find that this process helps create the basis for a civil working relationship going forward. Our specialist solicitors can support you through the mediation process, helping you to communicate with your former partner in a productive way.

      In some cases we know that you may not wish to see your former partner for a more serious reason – such as if you have suffered from domestic violence, or you fear physical or emotional abuse either to yourself or your children. In these instances it may be possible to go through the divorce process without seeing your former partner, and also to present a case for them not to see your children if they pose a danger to them.

      We have an experienced team of lawyers, who take a caring but no nonsense approach to agreeing arrangements for children. We’ll advise you of your options and whether you are likely to have to see or speak to your former partner. Where you’re worried about seeing your former partner either in mediation or in court, our solicitors will be there to support you and ensure that you and your children’s interests are protected.

      For advice on your case, please call us on 0345 604 4911 or get in touch online and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

    • Do You Accept Legal Aid Cases?
    • Legal aid is no longer available to help parents in private disputes over child arrangements, except in certain circumstances, such as certain cases of domestic violence. Unfortunately we can’t accept legal aid cases, but if we believe that your circumstances might entitle you to receive legal aid, we will refer you to a firm that can help you. You may also be able to find a suitable firm on the government’s website

Frequently Asked Questions

What Consideration Do You Need To Give To An Ex-Partner Before Relocating?

Being able to relocate just because your child lives (or spends the majority of their time) with you is a common misconception in cases of child relocation.

If you wish to relocate your child  abroad you need to get permission from your ex-partner before moving. You may need their permission if you wish to relocate within the UK and you should talk to a specialist lawyer before doing so.

In cases where permission hasn't been granted, you can make an application for a Court Order to relocate. It’s important this process is followed, as if you relocate without permission, the court can order that you return. This can carry both financial and emotional implications.

Generally speaking, the court has adopted a much more consistent approach to relocation in recent years (both for relocations within the UK, and relocations overseas). In 2016, the senior courts said that the decision whether or not to permit the relocation of a child must be based on the child’s welfare.

If you’re thinking of relocating, please contact our specialist family law team. You can either get in touch with us online or call us on 0345 604 4911 and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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Can I Challenge My Ex-Partner, If They Wish To Relocate My Child?

Yes. If you haven’t given permission for your child to be relocated, your ex-partner must apply for a Court Order. The court will then review your case and will make a decision based on your child’s welfare.

If your partner has relocated your child without your consent or a Court Order, you can apply to the court. If the court agrees with you, your ex-partner can be ordered to return.

However, even if you don’t wish to challenge a relocation, it can still be worth seeking legal advice.

Child maintenance is calculated by reference to the number of nights that your child spends with you, so if this is to change as a result of the relocation, then your maintenance payments may increase.

If your child is being relocated abroad, there are further issues to consider. For example, agreements made in the UK may not be valid in the country being relocated to.

Our solicitors can help you challenge a relocation, or to protect your rights if your child is moving to another country. Please call us on 0345 6044911 or contact us online for more information.

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What If My Child Has Been Relocated Without My Consent?

If your ex-partner has relocated your child within the UK, but without your consent or a Court Order giving them permission, you can apply to the court for them to be returned. The court has the power to order your ex-partner to move back if they cannot demonstrate that the relocation was in the best interests of the child.

If your child was relocated to another country without your consent or a court order, this is classed as child abduction. In these situations a number of international agreements exist to protect the rights of parents. It’s important to seek specialist legal advice as soon as possible, as delaying could go against your case.

Our lawyers are experienced in successfully reuniting parents with their children – following relocations within the UK or abroad. We can also help parents who have relocated their children and now need to defend against allegations of child abduction or an application for the child to be returned.

If you have any further questions regarding child relocation after divorce, please call us on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.

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I live in Scotland, can Irwin Mitchell help me?

Our expert family law team works with a number of trusted partners to help our clients with family law issues in Scotland.

We’ll be your point of contact and manage the entire process for you throughout. You’ll get frequent progress updates and we’ll break down any legal jargon into plain English so you’re always in the loop.

To find out more about how we can help, give us a call on 0345 604 4911 or contact us online.

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