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International Child Relocation

Our team regularly acts for parents who wish to move overseas with their children. Unless the written permission of the other parent (and anyone else with parental responsibility) is provided you will need the permission of the Court and we can help guide you through that process and advise you on both the legal procedure and also the practical issues you need to consider.

It is important to ensure that the consent of the other party with parental responsibility is clear and unambiguous or there could be serious consequences following departure. Our team can help you draft an arrangement which could be used in the event of a dispute.

Our team also has the expertise to give you the best chance of success in applying for permission from the Court to take your child abroad permanently.

If the consent of the other party with parental responsibility is not obtained or if the permission of the Court is not granted and you remove your child from England and Wales, you could be committing international child abduction.

International Child Abduction

The phrase ‘child abduction’ sounds distrurbing. Most parents could not contemplate their children being abducted, even by the other parent. However, in the international environment we now live in, such cases are becoming incresingly common. Our International Family Law Department helps parents to secure the return of their children from other jurisdictions. We also represent parents who bring their children into England and Wales without the relevant permissions.

Cases involving child abduction can be very complicated and it is essential that you have proper representation, whether you are the ‘abducting party’ or the ‘left behind’ one. What happens in these proceedings could affect your relationship with your child long term. Action must be taken very quickly. The type of action to take will depend upon the countries involved. Many countries are now signed up to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction 1980 which is a tool used by those countries to aid the swift return of children to their normal country of residence. However, there are some countries who are not signed up to the Hague Convention and so it is important to understand whether your case is one of those and what the procedure will be to deal with it.

Taking children abroad when separated

It’s not commonly known that you also need consent or the Court’s permission to take a child out of the UK for a holiday if you are separated. Essentially, the parent wanting to take a child on holiday should seek the written consent of anyone else with parental responsibility for the children, whether it is for a day trip to Dublin or the whole school holidays with relatives in India. The exception to this is where the parent wanting to go on holiday has a Child Arrangements Order (or Residence Order) confirming that the child lives with them, in which case they may take the child abroad for less than one month without seeking specific consent (as long as it does not breach any other part of the Order).

If the other parent will not consent, then the parent wanting to go on holiday will have to apply to a court for a Specific Issue Order. Such permission will usually be granted, provided the court is satisfied that it is a genuine and reasonable holiday and that the child will be returned at the end of it.

Even if the other parent does not have parental responsibility, it is a good idea to try to agree the holiday with them beforehand, and to go to court if you cannot, otherwise they may apply to a court for an order preventing you from going, or if you have already gone, apply for an order that the child be returned.

As indicated above, the main reason why a court may not allow a child to be taken abroad is where the court considers that the risk that they may not be returned to this country outweighs any benefit that the child may get from the holiday. Examples of situations where the court may take this view are where the parent wanting to take the child abroad has family or other connections in the destination country, where that parent has threatened not to return the child or in some circumstances, where the destination country is not a signatory to the Hague Convention.

Obviously, if one parent has threatened not to return the child and they have not made an application to the court for permission to take the child abroad, then the other parent should make an urgent application to the court for an order preventing removal of the child from this country. Such orders can be made even where there is a Child Arrangements Order (or Residence Order) in force.

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