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Can my ex move abroad or to a different part of the country with my children after divorce?

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Relocation after divorce or separation is a common cause of dispute between parents, particularly if one parent wishes to move abroad with the children from that relationship. There may be legitimate reasons for the move, for example they have a new partner and they wish to move on in that relationship or they have a new job or a promotion that they need to move for.

Whatever the circumstances, if both you and your ex have parental responsibility for your children, then they must seek permission from you before they move and vice versa.

Who has parental responsibility?

A birth mother has automatic parental responsibility for their child from birth. A father or other second parent will usually have parental responsibility if they were married to, or in a civil partnership with, the mother at the time of the birth or if they are listed on the birth certificate. Parental responsibility can also be applied for if you don’t automatically have it.

It is important that every person with parental responsibility has given permission for a child to be taken out of the country, otherwise this is classed as child abduction.

If your ex wishes to move within the UK, they are not legally obliged to seek permission from you, however it is important that they at least discuss the move and come to an agreement with you beforehand. If your children were born outside of the UK then the law becomes quite complex, so it is important to seek legal advice if this is the case.

What happens if I do not give my permission for my children to be moved abroad?

If you do not give your permission for your children to be moved abroad, then your ex may be able to apply to the court for permission.

There will usually be a hearing in which the court will consider the reasoning of both parents. Factors a court will consider when making a decision on the application include:

  • The welfare and wellbeing of the children
  • The reasons for the relocation i.e. is it for better employment prospects or living arrangements? Or is it simply to try to end a child’s relationship with the parent left behind?
  • Accommodation
  • Finances
  • Education

The court will put the children’s needs above everything else, and they may not grant the application if they believe that the children’s welfare will be in jeopardy. This is why it is important to try to come to an agreement with your ex where possible.

Coming to an agreement with your ex

It is important that both parents put the welfare and wellbeing of their child above any ill feeling they may have for each other when considering a relocation.

Before moving consider the following:

  • What is the reason for moving?
  • How will contact be maintained between the children and the parent and family left behind?
  • How do your children feel about the move (if old enough)?
  • Will the move have a negative impact upon the children’s lives in anyway?

It may be possible to negotiate and find compromises with your ex so that everyone is happy. You may find that seeking help from a mediator can help you to come to an agreement.

Get expert child law advice

If you need help coming to an agreement with your ex or you need legal advice regarding a possible court hearing, then get in touch with our expert child law solicitors. Our child law solicitors are highly trained in resolving disputes through peaceful means and are completely dedicated to ensuring the needs of your children are met regardless of how difficult the circumstances may be.

Call us on 020 8017 8962 or fill in our enquiry form at the bottom of this page.