Roythornes Banner Image


News and Events

Relocating with a child after divorce or separation

View profile for Ellen Nicholas
  • Posted
  • Author

There are many reasons for a parent wanting to relocate following a separation and divorce, including to move closer to family or a new partner or for job opportunities. Relocation will have a big impact on any children of the relationship, as well as any existing arrangements in place for children to spend time with their other parent.

Regardless of whether you plan to relocate within the UK or outside of the UK, if the other parent of the child has parental responsibility, it is vital to obtain their consent or an order from the Court before relocating. Relocating without either of these will be considered ‘abduction’ of the child and could result in legal action being taken against you.

The first step would be to raise your intentions with the other parent and see if they consent to the plans. The other parent could take legal action against you to prevent this move by applying to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order.

If the other parent is not in agreement with the proposal of relocation, you are able to apply to the Court for an order known as a Specific Issues Order, under section 8 of the Children Act 1989. Or, where a child arrangements order is already in place, a free-standing leave to remove order under section 13 of the Children Act 1989.

Key considerations
Key considerations to be taken into account, either when discussing plans with the other parent or upon the court considering an application if the other parent doesn’t agree to the relocation, include:

  1. The welfare of the children
    This is the most important consideration of the Court, as the order made must be in the best interest of the child. The Court will need to know that aspects relating to the child’s welfare have been considered and organised, such as plans for continuing the child’s education in the new location.
  2. Arrangements to spend time with the other parent and the impact on the child’s relationship with the other parent
    Naturally, moving a child away further away from one parent makes arrangements for the child to spend time with the other parent increasingly difficult and it is important to consider how arrangements will continue, including the possibility of longer time during school holidays and travel arrangements. It is important that parents are clear on how travel arrangements to facilitate time with the other parent will work, such as whether the non-resident parent will fly to collect the child, or whether, if the child is of an appropriate age, the child will have a chaperone to assist them with travelling to the UK by themselves. To ensure time with the non-resident parent is maintained, the resident parent should be willing to facilitate video and telephone calls between the child and other parent and be able to manage this when there is a significant time difference.
  3. The children’s wishes and feelings
    Depending on the child’s age, their view on the relocation will be taken into account. For example, the views of a fourteen-year-old child who does not wish to move and leave friends, family and any extra-curricular activities they are part of, would likely to weigh heavily on the decision made in terms of relocation.

Our team of legal experts can advise on all matters relating to children upon separation or divorce. Please do not hesitate to get in contact.