Can I relocate with the children without their father’s consent?

Barker Son & Isherwood LLP


Phone 01264 353411


Part of the process of moving on after a relationship breakdown can involve setting up home in a different part of a town, country, or even continent. Where there are no children involved, that’s perfectly straightforward. However, if you are looking to relocate with children, you should not simply up sticks.                                                                  

If you and your ex-partner were married or in a civil partnership, they will share parental responsibility with you. This affords them significant rights, and imposes significant responsibilities, in relation to your children. You should talk to your ex about your plans to move, whether within the UK or overseas, with a view to getting their consent to you taking the children with you (and if a Child Arrangements Order is in place, you’d likely need the court’s permission).

This process of consultation with your children’s father is really important. If you are proposing to move abroad with children under the age of 16, you would need his consent or the court’s permission, otherwise you could face being charged with child abduction. Even if you are moving within the UK, it’s far better to try and agree arrangements for the future than to act autonomously or secretively. Not only might you be jeopardising an amicable ongoing relationship with your ex, but you would be risking legal proceedings being issued in an attempt to prevent the move. It’s just not worth it.

So the first step when thinking of relocating is to talk this through with your children’s father. If he won’t agree to the move (and bear in mind that this can sometimes be a big ask), you might need to apply to court for an order allowing you to relocate.

The court would look at your situation and your ex-partner’s situation very carefully. But, ultimately, the decision to allow the relocation or not comes down to what is in the best interests of your children. You should expect to have to show that the relocation would, for example:

-         be to an area that would offer plenty of opportunities for your children to flourish

-         enable your children to live in a better house and go to a better school

-         enable your ex-partner to maintain a proper relationship with your children.

Each case is different and will call for specialist support in handling discussions with an ex-partner, and in mediation and building a legal case, if it comes to that.

For advice on your particular circumstances, contact either Sandra Machin or Jennifer Peebles at

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