The Court of Appeal has handed down an important judgement clarifying the law in relation to internal relocation. The judgement in Re C (Internal Relocation) makes it clear that there is no reason to differentiate between cases of child relocation within the UK and those of international relocation. The welfare of the children involved is always paramount.
The previous authorities had suggested that the parent who objected to their child moving with the other parent within the UK might have to demonstrate ‘exceptional circumstances’ in order to prevent the move, a test which does not apply in international relocation cases. This judgement confirms that it is the welfare principle in section 1(1) of the Children Act 1989 which should dictate the result in both internal relocation cases and external relocation cases. Lady Justice Black, giving the leading judgement, concluded her analysis of the law by saying: “All in all … matters should be approached as an analysis of the best interests of the child, whether the relocation is internal or external.”
Lady Justice Black went on to emphasise that the distance that a parent wishes to move will always be important, as will the practicalities of the child spending time with the parent left behind:
“…At one end of the spectrum, it is not to be expected, for instance, that the court will be likely to impose restrictions on a parent who wishes to move to the next village, or even the next town or some distance across the county, and a parent seeking such a restriction may well get short shrift. At the other end of the spectrum, cases in which a parent wishes to relocate across the world, for example returning to their original home and to their family in Australia or New Zealand, are some of the hardest cases which the courts have to try and require great sensitivity and the utmost care…”
“…One can see from the authorities, and indeed from this case, that the courts are much pre-occupied in relocation cases, whether internal or external, with the practicalities of the child spending time with the other parent or, putting it another way, with seeing if there is a way in which the move can be made to work, thus looking after the interests not only of the child but also of both of his or her parents. Only where it cannot, and the child’s welfare requires that the move is prevented, does that happen.”
If you require advice in relation to the relocation of a child, please contact a member of our Family Law Team.