Relocating abroad with a child after separation

November 1, 2019

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In this blog associate Hannah Greene examines the implications and factors needed to be taken into account if relocating with a child abroad.

A number of global corporations with a UK base have announced that due to the political climate they are making plans to move their headquarters to other countries. In the meantime, other companies are quietly moving their assets to other countries. In short London is no longer seen as the go-to base for European businesses.

But what does this shift abroad mean for the employees of these organisations and their families who are asked to uproot and move to another jurisdiction?

Although it is an exciting opportunity to explore new countries and cultures, for families where parents are no longer together but have been co-parenting apart, difficult decisions and major challenges await.

Do I need to ask my co-parent’s permission to move abroad with the children?

Any adult is able (subject to immigration issues) to move to whichever country they choose. However, if you are planning to move to another country with your child but without your co-parent, you will need your co-parent’s agreement to remove your child from the jurisdiction.

In many cases parents are able to come to an agreement, but where this is not possible you may need to apply to the court for permission to remove your child from the jurisdiction.

What do I need to think about if I want to move abroad with my child?

The court’s main concern, and yours as a parent, is your child’s welfare. That includes your child’s bond with you as parent, and with your co-parent.

If you are thinking about moving abroad, start thinking about what your plans are as soon as possible. Many larger employers will have relocation packages and your HR team may be able to help with this, but as a starting list it is good to bear in mind the following:

  • Where are you intending to live?
  • What school are you intending to send your child to? How does this compare to the English system and where your child is now?
  • Are there specific educational advantages in the country you are planning to move to?
  • Have you considered healthcare provision?
  • How will the quality of life be for your child in their new surroundings?

and most importantly, how is your child going to spend time and maintain their relationship with their other parent?

Spare (more than) a thought for the parent let behind

International relocation with a child is a difficult burden for both the parent who is moving and the parent who is left behind. It may be the case that until this issue arose you have been successfully and compassionately co-parenting as separated parents for a long period of time.

Should you need to apply to the court for permission to relocate with a child, one of the most important issues is how you propose to continue to facilitate the relationship between your child and their other parent. Think about what is reasonable and what will work for your child. Where children are older, they may be able to take flights on their own, but where they are younger, parents’ will need to accompany children. Look at the costs of flights and the length of the journey from door to door and think about what is reasonable for you and for your co-parent.

Advancing technologies mean that families are far more able to stay involved in each other’s lives long distance – so make sure to include this in your plans.

Further information

In summary, preparation is key when it comes to broaching the subject of an international move to your co-parent. For advice and assistance on the family law issues associated with an international relocation, please do get in touch with any of our lawyers at E: hello@flip.co.uk or T: 020 7420 5000.