Leave to Remove
This, more than many others, is an area which causes the most contention, and can lead to bitterly fought battles. The removal of a child to live out of the Country on a permanent basis, or to move to another part of the Country, has important consequences for all concerned.
If you want to take a child out of the country, and therefore out of the jurisdiction of the Family Court, either for a holiday, or permanently, you have to have permission from each person that holds parental responsibility for the child/children.
The only exception to this requirement is where there is a Residence Order in place in your favour, and you are not taking the child out of the country for more than 28 days.
If you wish to stop somebody taking a child abroad for less than 28 days you need to apply for a Prohibited Steps Order, but you are only likely to succeed if there are strong welfare reasons as to why the child should not go.
If the others concerned do not give you permission to emigrate, or to go on a long holiday abroad, then you need to apply to the court for permission to go with the child/ren concerned. It is important that the application is made as early as possible to ensure that the court has sufficient time to deal with all of the issues involved.
Permission to remove a child permanently is, invariably, distressing for all concerned as there is no middle ground. If the application is successful then the contact with the non-resident parent may be significantly reduced. If refused, and the child stays, then the parents plans for a new life abroad may not be able to be fulfilled.
There is no presumption either for or against relocation.
The welfare of the child is the paramount test, and the court has regard to the welfare checklist as laid down by section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989 when considering the application.
To remove a child without permission is a serious matter. It amounts to child abduction, and if the country to which the child is taken is a country that subscribes to the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of International Child abduction (an agreement between countries to ensure the return of an abducted child to the country where he or she normally lives, so that issues of residence (custody) and contact (access) can be decided by the Courts of that country). The children may well be returned to the United Kingdom and placed under the protection of the Court until proper processes have been invoked and the matter fully considered by the Courts.
It is a criminal offence under the Child Abduction Act 1984 for a person connected with a child under the age of 16 to take that child out of the UK without permission. A person is connected with a child if they are a parent of the child, a guardian of a child, a special guardian of that child, or anyone who has a residence order in force (or post 22nd April 2014 a child arrangements order) with respect to the child, or anyone who has the child living with them.
If your child is abducted it is imperative that you act quickly and notify the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the local police immediately. You need to speak to the child abduction section of the foreign and Commonwealth office whose telephone number is (020) 7008 0878.
Can I stop my partner moving to another area within the United Kingdom with my child?
If a parent is going to move, with the children, to another part of the United Kingdom, and take the children with them, no consent is needed from those persons who hold parental responsibility.
Accordingly, if that other person wants to stop the move, they have to apply to the court for a Prohibited Steps Order. The question of relocation is considered having regard to the Childs Welfare
You may also need to apply for a Residence Order.
Once again, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as you become aware of the intended move if you wish to prevent it.