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Family Law

Making a 'leave to remove' applications as a separated parent

Jacqueline Major
Jacqueline Major
Bharti Shah
Bharti Shah
Vanessa Friend
Vanessa Friend
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Sarah Harding

If you wish to relocate to another location with your child or children, you will need to obtain permission from the other parent.

Permission will also be required from any others with parental responsibility for the child

If the other person with parental responsibility doesn’t consent to the child’s relocation and an agreement can’t be reached, then an application to the court will need to be made for an order granting permission to relocate. This type of application is for ‘leave to remove’ the child.

Where can you relocate to?

Relocation can be internal, or external, to the current country of residence.

Internal relocation
Moving home with the child within England and Wales.

External relocation
Removing the child permanently from the jurisdiction of England and Wales.

The further away from the current location, the more requirements are needed to be met by the parent who is applying for leave to remove.

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What are my options?

Our specialist family lawyers have vast experience dealing with leave to remove applications. We recommend that the following options are explored when considering relocation:

1. Solicitors negotiations

If both parents can come to an agreement, then the relocation should be thoroughly researched by the moving parent and details should be provided to the staying parent for consideration and negotiations.

2. Mediation

If negotiations fail, then the parties can consider mediation. Family mediation consists of a series of discussions where a trained mediator will help to reach an agreement between both parties.

3. Application to court

The parent wishing to relocate can make an application to the court for a specific issue order under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989, which regulates where a child will legally reside.

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How does the court decide on a relocation application?

The child’s welfare is the primary consideration for the court. The court must follow  a particular checklist of needs and requirements, usually individual to the case. They will consider all of the circumstances and facts of the case in order to make a decision.

The parent who wishes to relocate will need to demonstrate to the court that the relocation is in the best interests of the child. The court will want to make sure the child’s relationship with the left behind parent doesn’t suffer.

It must be proven to the court that you’ve carefully considered the move. The court will take a holistic approach and you will need to show that you’ve considered all of the following practical issues:

  • Details of a suitable home where the parent and child could live.
  • Schooling arrangements for the child.
  • Reasons for relocating.
  • How the relocating parent will support themselves and the child financially.
  • Contact between the child and non-resident parent, including frequency of contact and costs of travel.

It’s important to remember the decision of the court will be based on the best interests of the child, and careful consideration will be given to the details of the relocation. It’s therefore vital to have thoroughly planned and considered the proposed relocation.

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