Our international family lawyers regularly advise on cases involving complex international aspects

International Relocation of Children

Outcomes vary geographically It is crucial to obtain timely advice on international family law issues


The international family law issues that our clients face vary tremendously. We have provided guidance on some of the questions that we are commonly asked about the international relocation of children:

  • I want to move abroad with my children/my job is taking me abroad. Do I need the consent of the other parent? If the other parent has Parental Responsibility for your children then yes, you will need their consent – or the permission of the court. The mother always has Parental Responsibility for her children. Broadly speaking, the father will also have Parental Responsibility if the parents were married when the children were born or if the father is named on the birth certificate (providing the child was born after 1 December 2003).
  • If the other parent does not agree to my moving abroad with children, how long will it take to get the court’s permission? The process can take quite a long time (because of the relatively slow speeds that the courts operate at) – usually a minimum of six months, and sometimes quite a bit longer. However, the process can occasionally be completed more quickly if it is an emergency.
  • Can I take my children in the interim, while I get the formal consent or court permission? No, you cannot take the children abroad without the consent of the other parent or the permission of the court, even if you have applied to the court for permission or are intending to. Doing so could severely undermine your chances of succeeding in a formal application to court for permission. Further, just taking the children could constitute child abduction.
  • How much notice do I need to give? There is no minimum notice period required but, as explained above, if consent is not forthcoming and a court application is necessary, the process usually takes quite a long time.
  • What do I need to show to get the court’s permission? These types of application are not straightforward – the ramifications for the children are significant. The intended move needs to be thoroughly and carefully prepared. It is much better to have considered planned a lot before you actually apply to the court. Broadly, you will need to show that the intended relocation is well thought through and is in the child’s best interests. You will need to be able to demonstrate a properly thought-through plan for how the children will maintain a meaningful relationship with the parent being left behind, to include spending time with them.
  • How do we manage school holidays? I still want a holiday with the children and don’t want all of their holiday time to be taken up with them visiting their other parent. This is the sort of thing that would need to be considered and addressed as part of the process of obtaining the court’s permission to relocate. The court is likely to want to ensure that the children get to spend material holiday time with their other parent. However, you too should be entitled to take holidays with the children.
  • How much will it cost? It is difficult to say how much it might cost to secure permission to relocate abroad with the children – each case is different. If your plans are well thought through and meet the needs of the children (to including spending time with the other parent), the other parent’s consent might be secured more easily than you may think. If the consent is not forthcoming and a formal court application is required, costs can be quite significant – so it essential that matters are prepared and planned well and efficiently.

You might also find it helpful to refer to our section, Parenting Issues & Child Support.