Moving Abroad with Your Children


It is not uncommon for a parent to want to relocate abroad (or return “home” as the case may be) with a child following a divorce or separation. It may be that the parent wishes to be closer to their family and support network or needs to relocate in order to find work or afford a new home. For more information, watch our video here.

These are difficult and emotive decisions. We can provide expert advice and experience on the issues involved, offering sensitive, tailored support to help you reach a solution.

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As with an internal relocation – a move within the UK – a relocation abroad with a child following divorce or a separation is often challenged by the other parent. They may foresee or fear a change in their relationship with their child because of the geographical distance involved.

At FLiP we offer exceptional legal expertise in advising parents on the relocation of their children abroad. Whether you are seeking advice on how to reach an agreement with the other parent or find yourself making or defending a Court application, we will guide and support you through the whole process with confidence and the benefit of considerable experience. 

Frequently Asked Questions →

Questions that we are commonly asked about external relocation include:

I want to move abroad with my children/my job is taking me abroad. Do I need the consent of the other parent?

If the other parent has Parental Responsibility for your children then yes, you will need their consent – or the permission of the Court. A mother obtains Parental Responsibility for her children automatically upon their birth. Broadly speaking, the father will also have Parental Responsibility if the parents were married when the children were born or if the father is named on the child’s birth certificate (providing the child was born after 1 December 2003).

If the other parent does not agree to my moving abroad with the children, how long will it take to get the Court’s permission?

The process can take quite a long time (because of the relatively slow speed with which the Courts operate) – usually a minimum of six months, and sometimes quite a bit longer. However, the process can occasionally be completed more quickly if it is an emergency or the matter can be settled.

Can I take my children abroad in the interim, while I get my former partner’s formal consent or Court permission?

No, you cannot take the children abroad without the consent of the other parent or the permission of the Court, even if you have applied to the Court for permission or are intending to. Doing so could severely undermine your chances of succeeding in a formal application to the Court for permission. Further,  taking the children abroad without the consent of the Court or other parent could constitute child abduction.

How much notice do I need to give?

There is no minimum notice period required but, as explained above, if consent is not forthcoming from your former partner and a Court application is necessary, the process can take quite a long time.

What do I need to show to get the Court’s permission?

These types of application are not straightforward – the ramifications for the children and the parent left behind may be significant. The intended move needs to be thoroughly and carefully prepared. It is much better to have a well-considered plan before you actually apply to the Court. Broadly, you will need to show that the intended relocation is well thought through and is in the child’s best interests. You will need to be able to demonstrate a plan for how the children will maintain a meaningful relationship with the parent being left behind, to include spending time with them.

How do we manage school holidays? I still want a holiday with the children and don’t want all of their holiday time to be taken up with them visiting their other parent.

This is the sort of thing that would need to be considered and addressed as part of the process of obtaining the Court’s permission to relocate. The Court is likely to want to ensure that the children get to spend holiday time with both of their parents.

How much will it cost?

It is difficult to say how much it might cost to secure permission to relocate with the children – each case is different. If your plans are well thought through and meet the needs of the children (to including spending time with the other parent), the other parent’s consent might be secured more easily than you may think. If the consent is not forthcoming and a formal Court application is required, the costs can be quite significant – so it is essential that matters are prepared and planned well and efficiently.

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We have some of the very best London divorce lawyers and mediators, along with accomplished arbitrators, family consultants and counsellors. There’s no one better to handle your case.

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