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Family Relocation

Following the breakdown of a relationship, decisions concerning the arrangements for a child can be the most difficult to make. This is especially so if one of the parents wishes to move to another country. Before a child can be taken out of the country to live, the written consent of every person with parental responsibility must be obtained. In the absence of consent, the permission of the court is required.

Removal of the child without the parental consent or permission of the court will be classed as abduction.

In considering whether permission should be given for a child to internationally relocate, the court will consider the following:-

  • What is in the best interests of the child.
  • The proposals of the applicant with the care.
  • The effect of a refusal of permission on both the Applicant and child.
  • The effect upon the child of restricted contact with the other parent and family members.
  • What are the reasons for the parent wishing to relocate and their motivation.
  • What will be the arrangements for the child including where they live, their education, how they will be supported financially, what will be contact arrangements with the non-resident parent.
  • Will language have an impact upon the child.

In all cases the court will consider, in addition to the above factors, the children’s welfare and both parents ongoing relationship with their children. It will also consider the genuineness of the motives of the parent wanting to relocate, whether their proposals are realistic and the motives of the parent opposing the relocation.

Information the court will need

It is vitally important that you seek legal advice early and are fully prepared with all of the information the court will require and detailed information about the practicalities of the arrangements. Failure to provide such information is likely to mean your application will fail. The following information will be required:-

  • Detailed information in respect of where you intend to live including full details of the proposed accommodation and facilities in the area.
  • Detailed information relating to schools you propose the child should attend.
  • Details of opportunities for the child.
  • Proposals for contact with the other parent and family members, including full details of the frequency and duration of face to face contact and who will finance this, additional contact arrangements such as telephone, skype or facetime contact.

How long will it take before the court reaches a decision?

The court proceedings are likely to take between 6-9 months depending on whether any agreement can be reached by consent. There will be a number of court hearings to try and establish whether any agreement will be possible. If there is no agreement then the issue will be decided by a judge, at a final hearing, having considered all of the evidence and having heard the oral evidence of both parents.

Can I take my child abroad on holiday? (Temporary removal from the jurisdiction)

A parent/carer with either a Residence order or a Child Arrangement Order (formerly a residence order) can remove the child from the jurisdiction for up to 28 days without the consent of the other party. Similarly a carer with a Special Guardianship Order for a child can remove the child from the jurisdiction for a period of up to three months without the consent of those others that share Parental Responsibility.

It is still advisable that the non resident parent is informed of the temporary removal together with full detail where it is appropriate.

Apart from this exception, if parents cannot agree on whether their children should be taken abroad, even for a holiday, then an application should be made to court for permission.

If you are concerned that your child will not be returned from a temporary stay outside of the United Kingdom then you should seek urgent legal advice in respect of applying for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent even the temporary removal of your child. In practice however such an order would be very rare and you would need evidence to support your concerns that your child would not be returned at the end of the holiday.

We our able to assist you if you are wishing to relocate or alternatively you wish to oppose an application to relocate.

For an initial informal chat, please contact us by telephone on +44 (0) 114 3217500 or by email at


Gill Noury is an excellent International Family Law Senior Legal Advisor. As my international child abduction case progressed in 2014 to a fortunate consent order after 5 months of intense legal battle I realized she was highly experienced and hands on. She not only provided me very good legal advice, but was also very sympathetic to my distraught situation. She was accessible all the times I needed to communicate with her or needed her personal support. She was at the same time very professional and demonstrated high integrity and human values. I found these attributes scarce in UK's legal practitioners.


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A&N Family Law firm are remarkable, they respond very quickly and efficiently by phone or e-mail to all queries, this is quite an unusual response for Solicitors nowadays. All of the staff have an optimistic attitude to life and are warm friendly and welcoming. The staff are handpicked for their ability to engage with the complex needs presented by their clients in a confident, professional and conscientious manner. In particular A&N Family Law Solicitors are very interested in sharing best practice, they provide training to outside agencies and partner professionals conscious of the fact that all knowledge shared benefits staff and clients from all other areas of work. We have been particularly impressed with the quality of training provided and would highly recommend them. As partner professionals we have benefited from the way that they appreciate partnership working, they are prepared to network on behalf us when time has limited our attendance at local functions. We feel proud and honoured to have them 'on site' where our vulnerable women can access legal advice without having to wait for appointments in formal arenas which only serve to increase levels of anxiety and stress that most of our clients are already experiencing.

Positive Mental Health Team