Naomi Devlin, Solicitor with Worthingtons' Matrimonial Department, looks at the issues surrounding International relocation in Children's Law cases
In our increasingly global society, cases which involve parents seeking permission to relocate to different countries are much more frequently coming before the Courts. A parent seeking to move to another country may do so making the case that a move ‘home’ to their country of origin, or a move to a different country for a ‘new life’ will benefit their child, more so than continuing to reside in the country in which their children have grown up.
Given their nature, these cases can be extremely difficult cases for all involved. Whilst the parent who seeks to move away will be seeking to persuade the court that a change in their child’s country of residence will be better for them, the parent remaining at home will feel strongly that maintaining the day-to-day relationship that they have with their child will be in the child’s best interests.
Under the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995, the Court’s paramount consideration is the welfare of the children concerned. The Court will therefore be required to balance the benefits of the child remaining in their home jurisdiction, with all the potential opportunities they may avail of if they are to move. The parent seeking to move will have to make a very persuasive case and show carefully throught out plans including proposed arrangements for the child’s education and health, among other things.
An extremely important consideration will be the effect of any move on the relationship that the child has with the parent who will be remaining at home. The Court will consider the current level and quality of contact, along with the practicalities of contact, should the application for relocation be successful. It will then be for the Court to decide whether the benefits of moving can be tempered against the downsides of having potentially less frequent contact with the parent at home.
In reaching a decision, the Court will have reference to the relevant case law, as well as the parties’ and the child’s rights under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act to respect for a family and home life. The Court ultimately is required to make a decision based on the child’s best interests.
If any of the issues contained in this article are relevant to you, it is imperative that you obtain independent legal advice at the first opportunity. Any parent who wishes to move with their child to another country, should obtain the consent of all those with Parental Responsibility in advance, and failing which, the permission of the relevant Family Court. Our specialist advisors in our family law team can assist you with any queries you may have in this regard and can be contacted by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone the office to discuss on 028 91811538.