Children – Relocation Application Involving Teenagers
In the case of H v C and Another 2015, the Court considered an appeal against the refusal of a mother to relocate with her two sons (aged 14 and 16) from London to New York.
The parties in this case were French, but had lived in London since the children were one and three years old.
The parties had lived in New York for a period of time before the children were born.
The parties separated in 2005.
A Shared Residence Order was made by consent in December 2006. This was extended in 2009 to relate to the children until they attained the age of 18 years.
The Court found that whilst the children moved between both homes, the Mother’s home was the primary home.
However, the Father was very involved in the children’s lives.
A Financial Order was made in March 2007, which provided the Mother with a lump sum and for the Father to pay maintenance to her and the children.
In 2009, the Mother put down a deposit to purchase an apartment in New York.
In January 2015, the Mother applied to move to New York with the children, stating her business prospects were better there and she could not afford to lose the deposit she put down on a flat there.
The Father objected.
The oldest child confirmed that he wished to move to New York.
The youngest child was undecided but stated he did not wish to be left behind.
The Court refused the application as it felt the children should not be put through the Mother’s uncertainties of moving to New York and it was not obvious whether it would benefit them.
Therefore, the Judge overruled the wishes and feelings of the children as he did not feel the move to New York was in their best interests.
The Mother appealed.
The Court felt that a relocation application in respect of children aged 14 and 16 was unusual.
The Court felt that it should not impose certain requirements on older children.
Therefore, the Court stated it could not make an order in respect of the older child as he was too old to be directed by the Court in such matter. Therefore, the Mother’s appeal was allowed in respect of the older child.
In respect of the younger child, who was 14, the Court changed the residence order to confirm it should come to an end when he reached the age of 16, rather than 18 as it was extended to in 2009.
Therefore, the Mother’s appeal was in part allowed.
This case highlights the importance of the ages of the children when determining whether to bring an application. This is because the Court has a limited ability to make Orders in respect of children aged 16 or over.
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