Jo Morris, a family law specialist at AMD Solicitors, considers a case study
Emma and Mike have one son together, Milo, who is eight years old. Emma and Mike got divorced two years ago and now Milo lives with Emma, spending every other weekend with Mike.
Emma is very lonely living in Bristol. Her family and many of her friends live in Manchester where she grew up. She wants to move back to Manchester and has found a house to rent near her parents, where the local school has a place available for Milo. Emma is a teacher and has spoken to a recruitment agency who have assured her that there is plenty of supply teaching available whilst she gets settled and looks for a permanent contract.
Can Emma move away?
Emma is Milo’s main carer and is able to move to a different part of England and Wales with him, if she wishes, but would be advised to take every step that she can to continue to promote his relationship with his father and to ensure that he can still spend time with him.
What if Mike objects?
If Mike wants to prevent Emma from moving away he would need to make an application to the Court for a Prohibited Steps Order under the Children Act 1989. When considering the application, Milo’s welfare would always be the most important consideration. The Court would analyse the competing proposals of the parents to decide if relocation was in Milo’s best interests. The sort of factors which the Court would consider are whether Emma’s desire to move was genuine and not simply to harm Mike’s relationship with Milo, whether it was realistic, what the impact of a refusal to allow the move would be on Emma, whether Mike’s opposition was genuine and the extent of the detriment which would be caused to Mike and Milo’s relationship if the move was allowed to take place. These factors would be weighed up when considering which decision would best promote Milo’s welfare.
The approach taken by the Court used to be that relocation within the UK would only be prevented if the case was exceptional, however the recent case of Re C (Internal Relocation)  EWCA 1305 confirms that this is no longer the case and that the decision will ultimately rest on the welfare of the child concerned.
What if Emma and Mike share care of Milo?
Where Milo effectively lives with both of his parents, spending a substantial amount of time with each of them, if Mike objects to Emma moving with him to Manchester Emma would be advised to apply to the Court for a Specific Issue Order permitting her to move. The Court would look at the same factors set out above, and again Milo’s welfare would always be paramount.
If you are considering relocating, or your former partner is considering doing so, AMD Solicitors can assist you and advise on all the implications. Jo can be contacted on 0117 962 1205 or by email on firstname.lastname@example.org