Frequently asked Questions about leaving England and Wales with your children

When couples of different nationalities with separate, difficulties inevitably arise when one parent wishes to return to their country of birth or relocate abroad and take the children with them. Each has parental responsibility for the children post-divorce.

In the past, the wishes and feelings of the parent seeking to move abroad were sometimes favoured over the inevitable emotional impact on the children and their UK-based parent. Now however, the children’s welfare will always be given any paramount consideration by the court and there is greater emphasis on continuing to spend frequent and regular time with both parents, even if that results in one of the parents being unable to return to their country of birth or pursue international career opportunities.

I don’t have a Residence Order – can I take my child(ren) aboard on holiday?

Yes, but only if you obtain the permission of their other parent or the Court before doing so.

The Residence Order was made in my favour – do I still need permission?

Yes, if you are planning on being on holiday for more than a month, you will still need permission from their other parent. However, you do not need to do this if you are planning to be away for less than a month – this is broadly to cover holidays and temporary trips abroad.

In any case, it is responsible parenting to inform the other parent of the holiday and provide full details about where you will be staying, dates of departure and return, any flight details and contact telephone numbers in case of an emergency.

I have a Residence Order – can I emigrate with my child(ren)?

Yes, but you will still need the permission of their other parent to permanently remove the children from England or Wales. If the other parent refuses to grant permission, then you will need to make an application to the English Court for permission to take your children from the country permanently.

I don’t have a Residence Order – can my partner emigrate with my children?

Regardless of the arrangements, either parent wishing to relocate the children to another country on a permanent basis must apply to the Court in the absence of the other parent refusing to consent to the move.

What happens if their other parent takes them abroad without my permission?

If the other parent has or is planning to take your child(ren) abroad without permission[unless, of course, we have a residence order and this is only for one month or less] this amounts to child abduction and you should seek immediate advice from a specialist family solicitor to ascertain what steps you need to take next. If there is a risk that your ex partner may take your child out of the jurisdiction without your permission you should also seek advice so that preventative measures can be put into place.

Whatever the circumstances, consult our specialist team of family and divorce lawyers to discuss your legal options.