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Relocation, relocation, relocation...

View profile for Shelley Cumbers
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We are seeing more relationships than ever between couples of different nationalities.  If that relationship breaks down, what happens if one parent wants to return to their native country with their children?

We are also living in a world which encourages international movement and immigration.  What happens if, following a family separation, one parent believes they could improve their standard of living and develop better opportunities by moving abroad with their children?

When a family is separated, one of the most difficult things for parents to establish is a regular, agreed contact routine between the non-resident parent and the children.  It is generally considered to be in a child’s best interests to have a fully functioning relationship with both parents and that two parents, even if separated, are more capable than one in providing for a child’s emotional and practical needs.

The court will always consider the effect upon the children of the denial of regular, direct contact with one parent and, in some cases, their extended family.  The welfare of the child is the paramount concern of the court and is always at the forefront of the court’s mind.

However, the court recognises that a move abroad does not necessarily prevent children enjoying contact with the parent or extended family remaining in this country.  The internet has opened up many indirect methods of contact such as Facebook, Skype and Facetime.  Long haul air travel is also becoming much more commonplace, making regular face to face contact an easier prospect to achieve.

Established case law states that, in each individual case, the deciding factor will be whether the relocation would be in the best interests of the children.  However, the Court will also consider the situation of both parents.  In particular, the motivation for the move; is it a genuine effort to improve the quality of the parent and children’s’ lives or an attempt to disrupt contact between the children and the non-resident parent? 

More often than not, assistance and guidance is sought from the Court.  Even in the event that the relocation is agreed by both parents, many seek the security of a Court Order in case the non-resident changes their mind and withdraws their consent at the last minute. 

Expert legal advice and careful preparation is so important to ensure that, if you are considering relocation abroad, you and your children are given the smoothest possible start to your new lives.  Please do contact a member of Birkett Long LLP’s Family Team for more information if this is something you are considering.

If you require any more information on this topic please contact Shelley via shelley.cumbers@birkettlong.co.uk or call 01206 217378.

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