When parents separate, they necessarily have to move into different houses however sometimes a situation can arise where one parent wishes to move to another area of the country with their children.  This can result in them being some distance away from the other parent.

Should a parent wish to make such a move with their children, they should obtain consent first from all of the other people who hold parental responsibility for those children.  This is because holding parental responsibility entitles a parent to be involved in decisions made about a child’s upbringing including where they should live.  If a parent cannot obtain consent from the other people holding parental responsibility, they should make an application to court for the court to grant them permission to move.

Unfortunately, parents do not always follow these steps and a situation can arise whereby a parent relocates with a child without asking the other parent first.  If this happens, the other parent can apply to court for an order saying that the child should return to their previous home location.

The Court of Appeal has recently re-evaluated the law that should be applied when these types of applications come before the courts in a case called Re R (Child).  In the past when parents have applied to relocate with their children, the court has considered a number of factors.  There was also a general principle that a court would only prevent an adult from moving to another area of the UK in exceptional circumstances.  The Court of Appeal have now confirmed however that they only factor that the court should look at when deciding where a child should live is what is in their best interests.   A judge will decide this by reference to a checklist of factors called the ‘welfare checklist’.

These factors are as follows:

  • the ascertainable wishes and feelings of the child concerned (considered in the light of his age and understanding);
  • his physical, emotional and educational needs;
  • the likely effect on him of any change in his circumstances;
  • his age, sex, background and any characteristics of his which the court considers relevant;
  • any harm which he has suffered or is at risk of suffering;
  • how capable each of his parents, and any other person in relation to whom the court considers the question to be relevant, is of meeting his needs;
  • the range of powers available to the court under this Act in the proceedings in question.

It remains the case that a parent should apply for permission before relocating with a child if at all possible.

At Ringrose Law we are specialists in Children’s Law issues. If you require any help with these matters do not hesitate to contact our Family Law Team at our offices in Lincoln, Boston, Spalding, Sleaford, Grantham and Newark.

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