Relocating with children can be a difficult process. It is made even harder when one parent is against the move. The process that must be followed when trying to relocate children is outlined below.  

Attempting to come to a private agreement

The children’s guardians must both be included in the decision-making process. If an agreement about the children’s relocation can be reached, then the process is a relatively simple one. The details of the relocation are outlined by the parties in a Parenting Plan. The plan can then be used to help settle any possible future disputes about what was agreed upon.   If an accord is reached, nothing else needs to be done. To make the document legally enforceable, an agreement can be formalised by the court for a fee – though this is usually unnecessary. Reaching a consensus is not always possible, Family Dispute Resolution is the next step.  

Family Dispute Resolution

This a negotiation process assisted by an independent professional (a divorce lawyer for example). The trained dispute resolution mediators are there to make sure all sides are heard and to guide you through the process. They will help to identify the key factors relevant to relocation and assist in determining what is best for your children in your particular circumstances.   If agreement is reached then again it can be formalised in a court order or left as-is – no more steps need to be taken. If there is no consensus then going to the Family Court is the next step.  

Taking the matter to the Family Court

A parent or guardian wishing to relocate their children without the agreement of the other guardian can apply to the Family Court for permission to do so. If this application is accepted then the court will issue an order allowing the relocation.   Once the matter is in court, there is no strict process that the court follows in making a decision. However it is a high threshold that must be met for the court to accept a relocation application. This is because the move is very likely to significantly affect the child’s relationship with the guardian that is not moving with the children. When coming to a verdict the court will always decide on the basis of what is in the best interests of the children. If the Family Court’s verdict is unsatisfactory then there is one final recourse.  

Appeal to the High Court

The last realistic chance that you might have for being allowed to relocate is appealing the Family Court’s decision in the High Court. C v C was a recent case in which this was successful. There were new factors that became apparent in the appeal hearing that were not present in the Family Court hearing. In order for you to appeal successfully, there must be factors which have recently arisen, were not considered in the initial hearing or the Family Court decision was just plain wrong (very unlikely).   This is the general process that must be followed when attempting to relocate your children. If you are planning to do so, contact us at Jeremy Sutton Barrister and we can help you through the process.  

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