Child Arrangements Orders

Internal Relocation

Co-parenting a child following separation can be quite difficult as both parents attempt to reach agreements in respect of contact arrangements and how to exercise their respective parental responsibility. These difficulties can often be worsened when one parent wishes to relocate to another part of the UK.

Often, the relocating parent may find alternative employment in another part of the UK, wish to move near family following the separation, enter into a new relationship, or simply prefer a different lifestyle and wish to take the child with them. For the parent being “left behind” this can often be a very upsetting and emotional time, with a great deal of uncertainty.

Whether you are the parent planning on moving (Parent A), or you are the parent unhappy with the planned internal relocation (Parent B), our child arrangements solicitors can provide you with bespoke advice for your exact circumstances. We appreciate that this is a difficult time to navigate, and we will work with you to find the best possible solution, based on our extensive experience of a wide range of child arrangements cases.

We offer child arrangements services to a vast range of privately paying clients, whatever their circumstances, covering all aspects of:

  • Child Arrangements Orders
  • Specific Issue Orders
  • Prohibited Steps Orders

Please get in touch with one of our specialist child arrangements solicitors near you today. Whether you are in PrestonLancasterMaidstoneKings HillBath, York or elsewhere in England or Wales, we can service your individual needs. Please use our contact form, email us at info@lakerlegal.co.uk, or call us directly to speak with a local solicitor today at any of our locations.

Initial considerations for internal relocation

There is no specific restriction or legal requirement on Parent A to seek permission to relocate. It is important to firstly consider what the specific circumstances are. If there is a child arrangements order already in place regulating contact arrangements or exercise of parental responsibility (such as decisions as to where the child will go to school), then Parent A would need the other parent’s consent, or the court’s permission, before relocating.

If no agreement can be reached, then either Parent A will need to apply to the court for a specific issue order or Parent B will need to apply for a prohibited steps order. Parent B may also apply for a specific issue order that could, for example, state that the child is to continue being educated at a certain school.

Alternative methods for resolving the internal relocation dispute

Both parents may wish to explore the option of mediation to resolve this issue. This can be difficult as there can be little ground for compromise; either the internal relocation goes ahead, or it doesn’t. However, mediation can assist in allowing the parties the opportunity to speak with each other and come to some form of understanding or resolution. If no agreement can be reached, the parties can arbitrate or make an application to the court.

From 2016, the Children Arbitration Scheme can deal with internal relocation matters. Arbitration can be regarded as a more flexible alternative to court proceedings. It is often lower in cost, and can be more time effective.

The parties have the option to choose their arbitrator to adjudicate on their matter, unlike court proceedings where parties are not able to choose the judge hearing their dispute. Whilst the arbitration process is flexible, the decision reached by the arbitrator is binding on both parties.

If the move is not going to significantly impact contact arrangements as it is to a fairly local area, there is not likely any need for an application to the court.  

Initiating court proceedings for internal relocation

Prior to issuing court proceedings, you must attend a Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting (MIAM). At the end of the meeting, you will be invited to consider whether you wish to mediate or issue court proceedings. If you wish to issue proceedings, the mediator you meet with will provide you with a MIAM certificate which must be sent to court alongside the application. A MIAM is not essential if an exemption applies, including where the application is being made on an urgent basis.

Orders you can apply for as part of the proceedings

Specific issue order

If court proceedings are necessary, Parent A should make a specific issue order application, for the internal relocation to be permitted. A specific issue order under s8 Children Act 1989, is an order that provides directions to the parties for determining a specific issue that has arisen in relation to the child, such as where the child should reside and with whom. It can be made alone, or alongside an application for a child arrangements order.

The relevant form for a specific issue order application is Form C100, which is filed with the court, along with the MIAM certificate and court fee. If there is any allegation of abuse, or domestic violence, then they must also file a C1A.

Prohibited steps order

If Parent B wishes to oppose the proposed internal relocation, then they must apply for a prohibited steps order.

Whilst prohibited steps orders are commonly used where there are concerns of domestic violence, in this instance, they are an Order under s8 Children Act 1989, that no step which could be taken by a parent in meeting their parental responsibility for a child, shall be taken without the consent of the court.

The relevant form for a prohibited steps order application is also Form C100 which must be filed with the court, alongside the MIAM certificate and court fee. Any allegations of abuse or domestic violence must also be detailed within form C1A.

Once the court have received the application from either Parent A or Parent B, they will issue the application and list the matter for a first hearing. There are usually three hearings in such matters. There can be need for the court to order any additional hearings, however this will be discussed as your matter progresses.

Internal relocation FAQs

As caselaw has developed over the years in this area, the approach of the court is that the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration, and the court will consider the welfare checklist at s1(3) of the Children Act in determining the appropriate outcome. This is also the foundation for child arrangements orders.

The leading case in matters of internal relocation is Re C (A child) (Internal relocation) [2015], which reinforced the court’s position that the primary consideration is the child’s best interests and welfare. The court must consider all aspects of the case; the proposal for the relocation, implications on both parents, impact of the child and the proposals should relocation not be permitted. The court will consider all proposals for the child’s arrangements by both parents, not just the proposals of the parent seeking to relocate.

It is of utmost importance that the application considers, very carefully, the proposals of all possible aspects of the relocation. These can include housing, education, maintaining existing family ties, any language issues, employment prospects, the child’s wishes and feelings, the impact upon Parent B by allowing the relocation and the impact upon Parent A by not permitting the relocation, whether Parent A could remain/Parent B could also relocate, and the motives behind the relocation.

If Parent A relocates without following the appropriate measures and applying to Ccurt, then Parent B must make an urgent application to the court for the child to be returned. This must be done as soon as possible as there is a risk that, if the application is made too late and the child has settled at the new location, the court will not order the return of the child as not to subject them to further disruption.

Contact our internal relocation specialists today

At Laker Legal Solicitors, we are well aware of the challenges that can arise in internal relocation matters, and we can assist you in achieving the best outcome for your child. If you would like an appointment with one of our specialist child arrangements solicitors in PrestonLancasterMaidstoneKings Hill Bath or York please get in touch by filling in our contact form, emailing us at info@lakerlegal.co.uk, or by calling us directly on 01524 753040.

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