Can I take my child abroad to live?

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As part of our family law advice series, we look at how to make or oppose a child relocation application.

If you are considering taking your child abroad and are making a child relocation application or if you need to oppose a relocation application, then you should get legal advice straightaway. Good preparation is key whether you’re making or opposing the application and specialist lawyers will understand what’s required.

Making an application to relocate.

What are the kinds of reasons given for moving abroad with a child?

  • Because of employment requirements where a parent has been transferred overseas to work;
  • A parent wants to make a fresh start after a difficult divorce or separation;
  • A parent wants to take the child to their country of origin;
  • A parent has a new partner who is from overseas and wants to return to their country for work, family reasons or because their UK visa and right to live and work in the UK has expired;
  • A parent has close family abroad and wants to be near them for support;
  • A parent wants to move for lifestyle reasons – to have a better life.

The reason for the move is important and can affect whether or not a parent is given permission. So having a good reason and being able to argue the case and set out your application persuasively is essential. Specialist solicitors will look at the evidence of the proposed move and assess whether it’s good enough or how to improve it before making the court application.

How to oppose an application to relocate?

If you fear that your ex wants to take your child abroad to live without your agreement or may not even apply for permission to take your child abroad, then you can apply to court for a prohibited steps order to stop them from taking the child out of the country. In urgent cases solicitors can act fast to get an order to stop the child’s removal.

You can ask the court to order that the child live with you under a child arrangements order. This kind of order is like the former custody order or residence order.

You will need to make a case for the child staying with you in this country and give your detailed reasons.  The court will weigh the pros and cons of both proposals.

You can apply for contact

Even if you are not successful in stopping the child moving abroad to live, then you can ask the court to make an order for access or contact with the child. A child arrangements order can specify the contact and whether the contact should take place in the UK or overseas. Remember contact doesn’t just mean face to face contact it can also include cards, letters, gifts, phone calls, e-mail, texts etc. so try to make sure that’s all set out in the order to avoid misunderstandings.

For more information and free family law advice, go back to our family advice hub.