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Empowering you with knowledge - helping you make the right decisions

Concerns relating to Children Moved Overseas

Where a parent has ‘Residence’ of the children it is possible for them to take the children abroad for up to 4 weeks at a time without the need for a court order.

It is advisable however to keep the other parent informed. This avoids animosity, lack of trust between the parents and allows the absent parent to have knowledge of the children’s welfare and arrangements.

Can children be permanently removed from the English Courts jurisdiction?

With today’s global economy and the increase in world travel it is not unusual for many of our clients to either be working or living abroad. Conversely, we have an increasing number of clients who have chosen to settle in the UK from abroad. Cross jurisdictional issues relating to children being removed from England and Wales can therefore be a real concern to many parents.

Threats to remove a child?

Where there are threats or a real risk that a child will be abducted against your wishes it is possible to apply to the courts for a Port Alert Order. A photograph of the Child or Children must be provided to the court and the Order is issued to the port authorities to prevent a child or children being taken out of the UK.

It is also possible to apply for a Specific Steps Issue. This can include that the parent against whom there is concern should take specific steps to return children or hand over their passports etc.

Should the children be allowed to reside abroad?

The welfare of the children is always of paramount importance. In the past the courts have taken the stand that the parent with whom the children resides should be able to make day to day decisions about where they should live with the children and the courts should not intervene.

However the court will consider whether a move taking the children outside of the courts jurisdiction is genuinely for the best interest of the children and the parent with care, or a deliberate move to hinder or prevent contact with an absent parent.

Relevant factors to identify a genuine move

The court would want to be persuaded that the move is genuine. This can be illustrated in many ways. We have produced a list of examples but the list is by no means exhaustive or relevant to all cases:

  • The location of the area where the children are to live
  • The proposed accommodation for the children and examples of likely cost.
  • Schooling arrangements
  • The economy and employment intentions of the parent in that location
  • The connections of the family to the location if any, i.e. where close friends or relatives live
  • Support and child care arrangements
  • Any other relevant circumstances such as Health service, immigration requirements etc

This information would be incorporated in a Statement to supporting your case. The more information you can provide the more your chances will be to persuade the court of your legitimate reasons for moving abroad.

Opposing an application to live abroad with children

If you are the parent that only has contact with the children and you do not want them leaving the UK you would need to show the level of involvement you have with the children. Also by indicating how well the children are doing in their current environment in England or Wales such as school reports and social activities (friends and clubs etc) would assist a court to consider the loss to the children should they move. Current family support and arrangements for any special needs are also relevant.

The court would also take into account the serious reduction in contact and relationship between a parent and the children result from a move abroad and where it can be illustrated that the distance between the family is likely to damage the relationship, adverse to both the absent parent and the children, the court can reject an application to remove the children from its jurisdiction.

Obviously the children’s wishes are very important and any resistance by them to a move would be taken into account particularly where the children are of a sufficient age or understanding to give weight to their opinions.

If you wish to take advice or require assistance relating to any of these issues we would welcome a call from you on +44 (01753) 850915. Ask to speak to either Ash Sanger or Esther Watton, Ash Sanger Director and a Solicitor of England and Wales.

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