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Removing Children from Jurisdiction

Cases where one parent wishes to move overseas with their children can cause enormous stress for all parties involved. If you believe your children are at risk of being taken abroad without your permission, it is essential that you seek specialist legal advice at the earliest possible opportunity, so that measures can be put in place to safeguard your children.

Similarly, if you want to take your children to live overseas and you don't have permission from the other parent, you will need to seek approval from the Family Court. Specialist Child Law legal advice is essential in such matters.

Unlawful removal of children from the UK

It is important to remember that both parents – if they have parental responsibility – must give their consent for their children to be removed from the jurisdiction of England and Wales.

When children are taken out of the country permanently without the consent of all adults with parental responsibility, whether or not there is a Child Arrangements Order in place, it is unlawful and breaches the Hague Convention on Child Abduction. It is a serious offence to remove a child without the other parent's permission or in contradiction of a court order.

Applications to remove or relocate children

Following relationship breakdown, one parent will usually be the primary carer i.e. they will have child residence, meaning the children will live with them on a day-to-day basis. If there are no issues with the other parent, it is not necessary to obtain a court order to reflect where the children live. Theoretically, parents with Child Arrangements Order may take their children abroad for up to 28 days, without the other parent's permission.  However, if a Child Arrangements Order states that the other parent may spend time with the children on a regular basis, it is important not to breach this. Therefore, parents should try to reach an agreement about holiday plans, if at all possible.

If either parent wishes to move abroad and permanently take the children out of jurisdiction, and the other parent does not agree, they must file a court application asking the court for permission to 'remove' the children i.e. 'leave to remove'.

When an application is made to the court for permission to remove the children from the jurisdiction, the court will focus upon what is in the child’s best interests and it will be important to show the court how the child will maintain their relationship with the absent parent once the move has taken place.

If the application is not prepared meticulously, the parent hoping to leave the jurisdiction faces the prospect of their plans being challenged and the possibility of being obliged to remain in a country where they no longer wish to be in order to stay close to their children. By contrast, the parent remaining in the UK will have to consider the prospect of living many miles away from their children and the negative impact this might have on their relationship.

When one parent wishes to move within the UK with their children, this is known as 'relocation' and there is no statute or convention in English and Welsh Law to prevent this. If you object to your former partner moving with your children to live in another part of the UK, you will need to apply to the Family Law court for a Prohibited Steps Order.

Such matters involving children can be particularly difficult and sensitive, and obtaining accurate legal advice is crucial.

Whatever your circumstances, as Specialists in Child Law, Goodsells Family Law has the expertise and commitment to achieve the outcome you desire.

Removing children from jurisdiction – family law solicitor in London

Goodsells Family Law has a well-earned reputation for providing clear, proactive advice to parents who are preparing to move overseas with their children, as well as those who wish to prevent the removal of their children from this jurisdiction.

We provide assistance to parents who wish to make an application to the court and have significant expertise in both making and defending such applications. We also work very closely with trusted counsel to represent you at court.

Contact our child law solicitor in Clapham, London

For comprehensive advice on all Child Law matters, call Goodsells Family Law on 020 7622 2221 or complete our online enquiry form.