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Leave to remove applications

Moving children to live abroad

The Courts are dealing with an increased number of applications by parents who wish to relocate to another country with their child or children. This is a very complex area of law and one where early advice from an experienced family lawyer can help.

Can I relocate abroad with my child?

In legal terms this is known as removing the child from the jurisdiction. In order to do so you will need the written agreement of the other parent (and anyone else who has parental responsibility for the child). If they do not give their agreement you can apply to the Court for permission to remove the child from the jurisdiction, known as Leave to Remove.

The Court will consider what is in the best interests of the child and will want to know that due consideration has been given to how the child will maintain contact and a relationship with the other parent.

What is involved in a Leave to Remove application?

A Leave to Remove application is an application to the Court to move a child to live outside of the jurisdiction of England and Wales. Such an application is made if parents (or those with parental responsibility for a child) cannot agree on the decision to take the child to live abroad.

Parents will be encouraged to try to reach an agreement, potentially via mediation. If this is not possible the case will need to be considered before a judge

Whether you are seeking to persuade the other parent or the Courts you should consider and plan for the following:

  • How contact with the other parent will be maintained and arrangements for your child to visit and spend time with the other parent.
  • Where you will live, where your child will go to school and the health provision in your new country.
  • Your financial arrangements for caring for yourself and your child, including details of any work you have secured etc.
  • Your motivation for the move, the Courts will look carefully and want to avoid a situation where the move is being undertaken primarily to end communication with the other parent.

What if I take my child out of the country without permission?

A parent with a live with child arrangements order can usually take their child abroad for up to 28 days without written permission unless a court order states you cannot.

If a child is taken out of the UK for longer than 28 days, without the agreement from the other parent or the Court’s permission via a court order, you will be in violation of the Child Abduction Act 1984 (which is a criminal offence) and steps can be taken to return the child to the UK.

Challenging a Leave to Remove application

If you believe that relocating your child to live abroad is not in their best interests it is possible to challenge a Leave to Remove application. You may also make an application for a Prohibited Steps Order.

You will need to show how the move would negatively affect your child’s welfare, the relationship you hold with them or how the move is impractical, for financial or educational reasons for example.

If you are concerned that your child is going to be removed from the UK imminently, without your permission or the permission of the Court you should take advice immediately.

Need More Advice?
Anyone facing these issues should take advice before taking any action. Book an initial half hour free telephone appointment with one of our family lawyers on 0800 321 3832 or request a call using our online form.

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