Kay Stewart considers relocation applications

The process of divorce is a trying process for most however those with international residencies tend to experience further difficulties when addressing the housing needs of a child. The welfare of a child is always at the forefront of the court’s mind when considering the placement of a child. Given the ease of travel in this generation, save for the intermittent pause for Covid-19 reasons, it is often the case that a child may be domiciled in the United Kingdom however have strong ties to a foreign country.

Where one parent wishes to relocate their child overseas, it is not frequently accompanied by the agreement of the other parent. This is where relocation applications are used so that the court can determine where a child should reside. The same requirements must be met in terms of the Child Welfare checklist under Section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989.

Amongst other things, the court will take into account the needs and characteristics of a child in addition to their wishes depending on their age. An important factor that the court considers when determining relocation applications is the effect on the relationship between the child and the other parent. This covers considerations such as how often will the remaining parent see their child including leeway for quarantining purposes as well as the support network available to assist in maintaining the relationship. Furthermore, the court will look to see if the country where the parent is looking to relocate allows for the Relocation Order to be enforced or to replicate the Order so that it can be. This is a critical factor in ensuring the Order, and its terms, remain effective and enforceable.

There is an endless list of factors that may, or may not, be relevant to a child’s welfare and are entirely based on that particular child. It is never a one-size fits all solution where children are involved therefore the courts must thoroughly consider their decision before granting a relocation application.

If you are concerned that your partner may be relocating with your child, it may be appropriate to make an application for a Prohibited Steps Order to prevent them from leaving the country. If granted, this Order would make it extremely difficult for the parent to simply leave the country with your child without permission from the court.

For further information on this topic or on any other legal area, please contact John Szepietowski or Kay Stewart at Audley Chaucer Solicitors on 01372 303444 or email admin@audleychaucer.com or visit our Linkedin page.

Larissa Bourgi

This information was correct at 23 November 2021

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