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As relationships break down and divorce, dissolution and separation cause your family structures to change, you or your ex-partner may wish to relocate to another country. Following this decision, international issues may arise that our experienced team can help you with.

If you wish to leave the UK and take your child to live permanently in another country, you must seek agreement from any person who has parental responsibility [link to parental responsibility page], which is usually the other parent.

If the other parent won’t agree then you’ll need to apply to the court for permission to take your child permanently to live abroad. This is called an application for “permission to remove from the jurisdiction”.

The court will always act in the best interest of your child. So, as well as considering the impact on the parent left behind, it will also check that your motives for taking the child abroad aren’t to prevent contact between the child and the other parent. If this is believed to be true you won’t be given permission to go.

As recent cases show that it’s harder than ever to get permission from the court, it’s essential to plan and consider the following details:

  • Why you are planning to move
  • Where you intend to live with your children
  • What school they will attend
  • Other important issues, such as health provision
  • Realistic proposals for contact between your child and the other parent

Taking your children abroad temporarily

If there is no child arrangements order in force:

  • Where you both, as parents, have parental responsibility, neither of you may take your child from the jurisdiction of the UK, without agreement from the other parent, and from anyone else with parental responsibility
  • Where only one of you wishes to take your child out of the country, for example on holiday, that person should obtain permission from the other parent in writing
  • If the other parent unreasonably withholds written permission, then a court application can be made. You should try to deal with any likely disagreement at an early stage to increase the chances of permission being granted. It is rare for the application to be refused, as long as it is made in good time and the trip is not to a country that is considered dangerous or otherwise unsuitable, or there are other practical issues

If there is a child arrangements order in force:

  • As above where both of you have parental responsibility, neither of you may take the child from the jurisdiction of the UK, without agreement from the other parent, and from anyone else with parental responsibility
  • However you or the other parent may take your child abroad for a period of less than one month if that person is named in your child’s arrangements order as a person with whom your child is to live
  • In this situation, if you do not want your child to be taken abroad you can still make an application to court to stop your child from leaving, for example where there is a risk your child will not be returned at the end of the holiday

International Family Law specialists

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