Relocation, Relocation, Relocation: Relocating with Children within the UK

Clients are often of the view, that relocation within the UK is much easier than that of external relocation out of the jurisdiction – in other words abroad.

However, there is actually no meaningful difference making one easier than the other. The leading case for internal relocation within the UK is that of Re: C (Internal Relocation) 2015 EWCA 1305. The judgement in this leading case on internal relocation makes it very clear that there is no reason to differentiate between cases of child relocation within the UK and those with an international element. The main concern for the court is that of the welfare of the child.

Prior to the above case, the suggestion was that the parent who objected to the child relocating within the UK might well have had to demonstrate “exceptional” circumstances in order to prevent the move. This test is not applied to international relocation. However, following the decision in Re: C, it is clearly the way forward for internal relocation that the Welfare Principle, contained in Section 1(1) of the Children Act 1989, dictates the result for both internal and external relocation in/out of the UK. The presiding Judge in the case stated that “All in all… matters should be approached as an analysis of the best interests of the child, whether the relocation is internal or external”. The Judge also took an approach in relation to the distance that the parent wishes to move, stating, it will always be an important factor.

The court will consider the time the child currently spends with the parent who is not relocating. For example, where there is a shared care arrangement in place it is extremely difficult for the parent wishing to relocate, due to the loss of time and relationship the child will have with the parent not relocating. In simple terms, the more time the child spends with the parent not relocating the harder it will be to change that.

Cases for relocation need to be planned very well and the person wishing to relocate needs to show to the court that any move is in the child’s best interests. A parent wishing to relocate to be as far away from the other due to their own personal reasons is likely to be unsuccessful in a relocation application, whether within the UK or abroad.

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Please note the above is for information purposes only and is intended to be a short summary.  It should not be treated as a comprehensive guide and should not be acted on without qualified legal advice.