A parent may wish to relocate and live in another country after the divorce or separation and take their children with them

Moving abroad with your children – External Relocation

The best for your children We encourage parents to place their children's needs at the heart of the process


Following a separation, it is entirely foreseeable that a parent may wish to be closer to their family and support network or may need to relocate in order to find work and afford a home. In these situations, it is not uncommon for the other parent to challenge such a move because of the impact on their relationship with their children.

At Family Law in Partnership we are widely recognised for our expertise in advising parents on the relocation of children abroad. Whether our clients seek our advice to reach an agreement with the other parent or find themselves making or defending a Court application, our team of experienced family lawyers are able to guide and support our clients through the relevant process.

Questions that clients commonly ask us about moving abroad with their children include:

  1. 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).
  2. If the other parent does not agree to my moving abroad with the 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 speed with which the Courts operate) – 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.
  3. Can I take my children abroad in the interim, while I get my former partner’s 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 the Court for permission. Further, just taking the children could constitute child abduction.
  4. How much notice do I need to give? There is no minimum notice period required but, as explained above, if consent is not forthcoming from your former partner and a Court application is necessary, the process can take quite a long time.
  5. 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 a well-considered plan 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 plan for how the children will maintain a meaningful relationship with the parent being left behind, to include spending time with them.
  6. 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 holiday time with their other parent. However, you should be entitled to take holidays with the children too.
  7. How much will it cost? It is difficult to say how much it might cost to secure permission to relocate 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, the costs can be quite significant – so it is essential that matters are prepared and planned well and efficiently.

You may want to take a look at this recent blog on international families and the relocation of children:

Travelling Abroad with Children After Divorce