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Getting your ex’s agreement to take your child abroad to live

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Moving abroad is a huge step for anyone. I should know. I am now based in Egypt! There is just so much to sort out, and that is on top of the fear of the unknown and doubts about whether it is going to work out or you may end up coming home with your tail between your legs. And then there are the children. It is a huge wrench and adjustment if you have children and want to move abroad, though we all know how resilient and adaptable they can be. However, if you are divorced from your son or daughter’s mother, or most often father, and looking to make the move with them, you do need to get the relevant permissions to move to a new country. This revolves around moving your child from UK jurisdiction.

If one parent has the benefit of a court Residence Order, they are allowed to take the child on holiday abroad for no more than four weeks. If there is no order in place, they need permission from the absent parent, assuming they have parental responsibility, before they do this. But of course, any move abroad needs a more formal arrangement drawn up and an application made to the courts and they will give careful consideration to a range of issues. It is therefore absolutely vital that any move is clearly and meticulously thought out in advance, with the input of an experienced family lawyer, and, where practical, involve the absent parent before actually submitting any application.

Is there a genuine reason for moving? If the motivating factor is to try and restrict or interfere with a non-residents parent’s contact with the child, the application is likely to fail. However, seeking a better life or pursuing an exciting job opportunity would be viewed more sympathetically.

What about school? Planning what will happen with the child’s education is an essential ingredient of any order for removal from jurisdiction. It is not enough just to have found a school near your proposed new home. If it has to be paid for, where are the funds coming from? Does it provide a full curriculum? Are the exam results good and what is its reputation? Demonstrating to the court that this has been thoroughly looked into will help significantly.

How will you seek to maintain contact with the absent parent? Though it may ultimately be agreed that you can move the child abroad, you must show that you have thought about how contact will continue. While it is unreasonable to expect weekly contact perhaps, a plan for school holidays, establishment of Skype accounts to ensure regular video calling and the like will help to demonstrate that you are doing everything possible to maintain the child’s relationship with their absent parent.

In addition, addressing issues on how they will be financially supported in this new life, the realistic impact on the child, with particularly consideration paid to their age, and the impact on the parent if the request is turned down are also all relevant issues that will need to be covered off.

If you have a supportive, pragmatic ex, the process will be much easier and you may want to involve them at an earlier stage so they can help make some of the choices on contact and education. Speaking from direct experience, this approach does work best for all concerned – if it is possible. But at any rate, being able to approach them having clear answers to all of the points above is likely to help smooth the waters with them as well as helping to convince a court to grant the order.

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