Moving Abroad With Your Children
Where one parent, who is the primary carer, wishes to permanently remove the children, written consent is required from the other parent. If consent is refused the move abroad with the children cannot take place unless permission is obtained from the court.
A parent, who removes the child from the country without obtaining such permission, has ‘wrongfully removed’ the child, even if the child normally lives with them.
The courts give very serious consideration to granting permission to such applications, carefully taking into account the best wishes of the child and the impact on the parent left behind. They will decide if the move abroad is an attempt to exclude the father from the child’s life, or if it is motivated by a genuine desire to improve the life of the parent with care and the child.
If the plan is realistic, and the parent has considered the additional cost of contact, has good job prospects or family abroad, and has accommodation or schooling in place, the court will then look at the father and his reasons for opposing the move.
Above all, the court will consider the welfare of the child and whether it is in their best interests to move abroad permanently. They must consider what impact it will have on the parent and child if the application is refused, and how to ensure that contact with the non-resident parent continues, although such contact will necessarily be more difficult and less frequent. If there are concerns that contact may not take place the court may add conditions to the permission being given such as the requirement for a surety or bond payment which, should the parent with care of the child not co-operate with contact, then the fund would support the other parent in terms of travel costs and even litigation costs which may arise in seeking to restore contact.
What Are The Chances Of Succeeding?
Generally speaking a well-founded and well-prepared application has a good chance of success. If the move has been meticulously planned and would improve the quality of life for the child, the court would be unlikely to stand in the way of an application. But this is a very complex area of law, and there is increasing concern that the relationship children have with the other parent suffers and legal advice should be sought immediately.
What About The Rights Of An Unmarried Father?
An unmarried father has more limited legal rights in child abduction cases and will only be able to seek contact or access orders from another jurisdiction rather than the return of the child. It is therefore in the father’s interest to have Parental Responsibility prior to any abduction taking place. This can be acquired by agreement, Court Order, obtaining a Residence Order or is automatically acquired if you were present with the mother at the registration of the child’s birth and you were accordingly registered as the father of the child on or after 1st December 2003. If you did not register as the father on the birth certificate, you can re-register the birth adding your details.
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