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  • Moving with children

    Moving with children

    I have mentioned Parental Responsibility in previous articles and blogs and have pointed out that both parents must be involved in important decisions about a child’s upbringing. This includes choosing schools and making medical decisions. Also, one parent cannot change a child’s name or move abroad without the other parent’s consent or a Court Order.However, what happens if one parent wishes to move within this country?Firstly, ‘this country’ means England and Wales. So, if the move is to Scotland or Northern Ireland, it is a different country and would follow the same rules as a potential move to Europe or further afield. Any permanent move (or visit for more than 4 weeks) without the consent of the other parent (or anyone with Parental Responsibility) could lead to criminal charges for child abduction.Secondly, any move within England and Wales is known as ‘internal relocation’ and, although the move would be within the same legal jurisdiction, consent of the other parent is required. If consent is not provided, the parent wishing to move must apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order or the parent seeking to stop the move should apply for a Prohibited Steps Order. Both types of Court application are made in the same way, and the procedure is also the same for a planned move abroad.Rather than launch straight into Court proceedings, it is always a good idea to ask for the other parent’s permission to move the children, explaining why the move is important and why it is in the best interests of the children to move. It may be that the parent has a new job, or that their spouse needs to move or some other reason. This can either be done directly between parents or by negotiation through Solicitors. If the other parent does not agree, mediation is a compulsory step before applying to Court (although there are some exceptions). Mediation sometimes works and parents agree matters, although any agreement reached in mediation is not legally binding.Should mediation not work, the next step is to apply to the Court. In a recent case, the Court of Appeal made it very clear that the most important consideration is what is best for the children. The Court follows what is known as The Welfare Checklist plus factors set out in cases heard by the Courts previously. These factors include how would contact arrangements change and how would this affect the ability of the children to see the parent left behind and, if the children are old enough, their wishes and feelings about the planned move.The parent wishing to move would need to show the Court that they have researched housing, suitable schools and activities, where they would work and how they would support the family. In addition, they would need to set out what their proposals would be for contact – maybe Skype and longer time spent with the other parent during school holidays, as it would be difficult for them to see the children on a regular basis.The Court then has to decide what is best for the children.This process can take many months. Therefore, it is essential to seek legal advice as early as possible.


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