Where should children live


When parents separate the natural occurrence is that one party moves out of the family home and into a new one.

This could be across the street, the other end of the Country or across the Atlantic. The UK is a hugely diverse nation and home to thousands of nationalities and people who have moved around the Country for work or family and therefore, it may be less straightforward to organise a routine for these types of families.

What parents must remember is that any decisions must be made with the children’s welfare, as set out in the Welfare Checklist, at the core. This includes the child’s wishes and feelings, their physical and emotional needs, likely effect of any change in circumstances, possible harm the child is at risk from and how capable each parent is.

The decision should be made jointly with the other parent who has Parental Responsibility taking into account these factors.

A parent should not simply remove the children from school and locate to another part of the Country or World without having the consent of the other parent first.

National relocation

The basic principle is that a parent can live anywhere within the UK with their child that they choose. They will only be prevented from doing so if the child’s welfare dictates.

Having said that, a Court cannot prevent a parent from relocating, they can only prevent the child from going with them and in these circumstances the child would usually remain with the parent staying in the original location.

When considering this type of case, a Court will take into account: –

  • history of the relationship;
  • motivation for the proposed move;
  • the practicalities such as where will the family live and go to school etc;
  • child care arrangements;
  • proposals for contact to the other parent;
  • the impact of the refusal or permission on the children.

International relocation

It is also common for one parent, after separation, to wish to return to their Country of origin, move due to a new relationship or relocate for employment opportunities. The stakes are extremely high in this scenario because a Court can only either make a decision that the children can go, or they cannot.  Sadly therefore one parent will feel very disappointed with the outcome.

The child’s welfare remains paramount in guiding the Judge to a decision, but they will also have in mind the genuineness of any application.

Previously, significant weight was placed in the decision-making process on how the applicant parent who wanted to move would cope if their application was refused.  The premise was that if they were so bitterly disappointed, this could impact upon their ability to look after the children and in turn place the children at risk.

Whilst the welfare of the applicant parent is still taken into account, that of the child is more important.

To reach a decision, a holistic approach is taken to the global circumstances and the Judge will then analyse these to weigh up the positives and negatives.

It is crucial that advice is obtained in this area.

For anything further, one of our specialists would be delighted to meet you to talk through your options and answer any questions. Please contact us at any time.