Child Arrangements Orders

International Relocation

Following separation, there are occasions where one parent (Parent B) is informed by the other, (Parent A) of a desire to relocate to another country. Parent A may be wishing to relocate to their own country of origin, relocate for employment purposes or simply due to the preference to live abroad. Whatever the reason for the desired relocation, it will likely be a time of upset and concern for Parent B, who will inevitably be worried about the impact on their relationship with the child, and perhaps as to how genuine the motive of Parent A is, with regards to the proposed international relocation.

Whether you are Parent A or 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 will work with you to find the best possible solution for your child, based on our extensive experience with 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 international child relocation solicitor today at any of our locations.

Initial considerations for international child relocation

If there is a child arrangements order already in place, whereby Parent A has a “live with” order, then Parent A does not need Parent B’s consent, or the court’s permission, before removing the child from the UK for less than one month. However, they do still have to make the child available for contact as detailed within the child arrangements order. It is therefore more common for parents to discuss lengthy proposed travel arrangements and the impact on contact with the other party before such arrangements are made. Failing this, it is still an option for Parent B to make a specific issue order application to the court if no agreement can be reached.

It is a criminal offence to remove a child under 16 years old from the UK without written consent of all parties with parental responsibility or otherwise named within a child arrangements order, or without permission of the court, for any length of time over one month.

If there is no pre-existing child arrangements order in place, or if no agreement can be reached, then Parent A will need to apply to the court for permission to relocate abroad with a child from the UK, also known as “leave to remove,” by way of a specific issue order.

Alternatively, Parent B will need to apply for a prohibited steps order. Parent B may even also apply for a specific issue order for example, that the child is to continue being educated at a certain school.

Alternative methods for resolving the international relocation dispute

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

Initiating court proceedings for international child relocation disputes

Prior to issuing court proceedings, you must attend a MIAM (Mediation Information and Assessment Meeting). 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.

Relevant orders you can apply for

Specific issue order

If court proceedings are necessary, Parent A should make a specific issue order application to seek permission to relocate abroad with a child from the UK. 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 who with. 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, alongside 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 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.

International child relocation FAQs

As caselaw has developed over the years in this area, the approach of the court in international relocation cases is that the welfare of the chid is the paramount consideration. Unless it can be shown otherwise, there is a presumption that it is in the child’s best interests for both parents to be involved in the child’s life. In reaching a determination, the court will consider the welfare checklist at s1(3) of the Children Act 1989 in determining the appropriate outcome. This is also the foundation for child arrangements orders.

The court pay consideration to the leading cases of K v K (children) (removal from jurisdiction) [2011], Re F (a child) (permission to relocate) [2012] and Re F (A Child) (International Relocation Cases) [2015].

Prior to the above three cases, the leading case in international relocation cases, was Payne v Payne [2001]. The below list of considerations provided in Payne can be considered by the court, particularly in matters where the applicant is the primary carer of the child:

  • Whether the application is genuine; not motivated by a wish to exclude Parent B from the child’s life
  • The practicalities of the proposal have been well researched
  • If the above are passed, then the test is what is the motive behind Parent B’s refusal to consent
  • Detriment to the child and the relationship with Parent B if the application was granted
  • How the impact on the relationship with Parent B would be offset by the child’s relationship with Parent A’s family
  • The impact of refusal on the applicant
  • The importance of the primary carer’s wellbeing

The above list is no longer applied rigidly in international child relocation matters. It is important to remember that the above is only guidance available to the court to consider if it deems appropriate, and the main focus should be on the child’s best interests and welfare.

The court’s current position is that the welfare of the child is of primary importance. The court must consider all aspects of the case; the proposal for the relocation, implications on both parents, impact on 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, and any statements ordered by the court during the proceedings, carefully details proposals in respect of all possible aspects of the relocation or of remaining in the current area. These can include the motives behind the relocation, housing, education, maintaining existing family ties including with Parent B and Parent B’s family, any language/visa/immigration law issues, employment prospects, the child’s wishes and feelings, the impact upon Parent B by allowing the relocation and also the impact upon Parent A by not permitting the relocation, and whether Parent A could remain/Parent B could also relocate.

If Parent A relocates without following the appropriate measures and fails to apply to court for permission to relocate abroad with a child from the UK, then they have committed an offence under the Child Abduction Act 1984. They face significant criminal sanctions, including potential imprisonment.

The only defences to this are that they reasonably believed Parent B would have consented had they been aware of the relevant facts of the matter, they had taken all reasonable steps to communicate with Parent B, or where Parent B unreasonably refused to provide consent.

Contact our international child relocation solicitors today

At Laker Legal Solicitors, we are well aware of the challenges that can arise in international relocation matters, and can assist you in achieving the best outcome for your child. If you would like an appointment with one of our specialist child relocation 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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