A parent who wishes to move abroad with their child will need to obtain permission from the other parent (and anyone else with parental responsibility for the child) or apply to the court for an Order granting them permission. This type of application is for ‘leave to remove’ the child.
The court must consider the welfare of the child and what is in the child’s best interests. The judge will generally grant permission unless the reasons for the move are unreasonable and there are compelling reasons to refuse the application. This will include assessing the parent’s plans, the arrangements for contact between the child and the parent remaining in the UK, and the impact of refusing permission upon the child.
Following the case of Re K (Children) in 2011 the court will also consider whether the parents have shared residence of the child or if the parent wishing to leave is the child’s main carer. Although this is just one factor, if leave to remove is a concern then a parent should consider whether they have a shared residence arrangement.
In contrast, if the parent who does not agree for the child to live abroad has concerns that the child may be removed against their wishes without a court Order (or against a residence Order already in place) then that parent can apply for an Order preventing the other parent from removing the child abroad. This is called a ‘Prohibited Steps Order’.
It is important that a parent with any concerns about a child being removed abroad takes action to prevent removal of the child from England & Wales, especially if removal is imminent. If you are concerned, or if your child has been abducted, you can call the FCO’s Child Abduction Section on 0207 008 0878 or visit https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-office/series/child-abduction, or contact Reunite on 0116 2556 234.
It is often easier to prevent abduction than to recover a child from a foreign jurisdiction. If there is a serious concern that an abduction could take place imminently, a parent should act quickly by retaining the child’s passport, contacting the Police and seeking urgent legal advice from a specialist solicitor.
We can help you by:
- Helping you obtain permission from the other parent to take the child abroad to live
- Making an application to court for an order giving you permission
- Defending an application for permission to remove a child
- Advising you on emergency steps to prevent a child being taken abroad
- Issuing an urgent application for a prohibited steps order to prevent removal of a child
- Advising you of the likely legal costs involved