Can she take the children to live in London?
When parents separate, there are often issues regarding which parent the children live with, or how much time they spend with each parent. Those issues get more complicated when one parent wants to move away from the original home area and wants the children to go with them.
If a parent wants to leave England and Wales (Scotland has a separate legal system), they are not allowed to do so unless the other parent agrees, or unless the court gives permission despite the parent’s objection.
However, what if one parent wants to move the child some distance away, but within the country?
Any arrangements would almost certainly have to change radically. Contact arrangements are also likely to be affected. In real terms, a move from Plymouth to Newcastle puts more distance between the child and their other parent than, say, a move from London to Paris. However, the law to date has offered little help to the potentially “left behind” parent in such “internal relocation” situations, compared with those where the parent was hoping to going abroad.
The Court of Appeal recently heard a case, Re C (internal relocation) which has clarified the law. A child, referred to as “C”, lived in London with her mother, but also had a lot of contact with her father, spending two nights a week and alternate weekends with him. An order had been made previously about the living arrangements in London. When the mother wanted to move to Cumbria and take C with her, C’s father objected and applied to the court.
The Court of Appeal looked at how the court deals with the “moving abroad” cases, and decided that the same principles should apply to “internal relocation” cases as well. There was no reason to treat the two situations differently, and what was important in both cases was the overall effect on the child concerned, what the court refers to as the “welfare principle”.
The Appeal judges commented that the further that a parent wanted to move away, the more closely the court would look at the likely consequences, and the stricter the court was likely to be in assessing the outcomes.
In this case, the court decided that it was in child C’s best interests overall to move to Cumbria with the mother, subject to the mother complying with arrangements to allow the child as much contact as was practical with the father, including continuing alternate weekend stays.
If you are worried about how a move could affect your situation then speak with GA’s family team. Call 01752 203500 today.