Child welfare ‘paramount’ in relocation cases

Family Law|December 21st 2015

The welfare of any child is “paramount” in all relocation cases, the Court of Appeal has declared.

In a dispute between two parents over their ten year-old daughter’s living arrangements, three judges insisted that there is no distinction between internal and external relocation under English law.

The father in this case sought to challenge a decision by a local court which approved the mother’s request to relocate from London to Cumbria with their daughter, ‘C’. The parents were never married, but had a three year relationship which ended in 2007. Following their breakup, the father bought a flat near his London home and allowed C and her mother to live there rent free.

The Recorder who heard the mother’s application for permission to move was convinced that she was “genuine and not motivated by a desire to exclude the father” from C’s life and that her plan was “well researched and realistic”. Additionally, he believed that C “would be upset if she were not allowed to move”.

After the mother was granted permission to relocate, the father took his objection to the Court of Appeal. Sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Lady Justice Black said that the father’s appeal had “generated a consideration of the proper principles to be applied in internal relocation cases”.

She examined several previous judgments which dealt with proposed moves both abroad and within the UK. Among each case, the “central thread” in the decision was based on Section 1 (1) of the Children Act 1989, which states that “the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration”. As such, there was “no reason to differentiate between [internal] and external relocation cases”, she declared.

Turning to the father’s appeal, Lady Justice Black, Lord Justice Vos and Mr Justice Bodey unanimously ruled that it should be dismissed. They declared that the Recorder’s decision was correct and best served C’s welfare.

Re C (Internal Relocation) is available in full online. To read it, click here.

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