Taking A Child Abroad

If you are considering taking your child to another Country it is essential that you go about it in the right way, seek legal advice.


If the child lives with you under the terms of a Residence Order or defined as living with you under the terms of a Child Arrangements Order then you are allowed to take that child abroad for up to one month.

Where a Residence Order of a Child Arrangements Order defining the child as living with you is not in place you must have written consent from everyone who has Parental Responsibility before you can take the child abroad.

It can be a criminal offence to take the child abroad without the appropriate consent. If consent is not given you can apply to the court to seek permission to take the child abroad.


More and more parents nowadays are looking to set up a new life abroad for themselves and their children. However, if one parent remains living in England there are many issues that you need to consider.

Generally speaking you will need to obtain consent for the move from the child’s other parent, or anyone else who holds Parental Responsibility for the child, if they will not consent then you can make an application to Court and ask the Judge to grant permission for the child to move abroad.

The factors that the Court will consider when deciding whether or not to grant permission are:

a.   The wishes and feelings of the child in light of their age and understanding.

b.   The child’s physical, emotional and educational needs.

c.   The effect on the child of change in circumstances.

d.   The age, sex, background and any special needs of the child.

e.   Any harm the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering.

f.   How capable each parent is of meeting the child’s needs.

Historically the Court did not want interfere with the reasonable way of life that the main carer of the child chooses to live however over the last year the Courts have expressed concern that too much emphasis is on the wishes of the child’s main carer. There is no presumption in favour of the child’s main carer. Each case is decided on its own facts but the interests of the child are always paramount and the right of the child to maintain relations with both parents, the views of child, proposals for practical arrangements, the history of family relations and the impact of the grant or refusal on the child’s family/education/social life must be taken into account.

Below is a checklist of some of the issues a parent looking to relocate should consider:

What are the reasons/motivation for the relocation? The reason for the move must be genuine, not just a desire to move away from the other parent.

Is the plan thought out properly?

Are immigration issues relevant?

If the parent looking to move has formed a new relationship what would the effect be on the new partner and the new family of refusal to relocate?  

Are relationships and support networks in the place where the parent wants to move to solid and tested?

Are the proposals financially viable, for example what are the plans for housing and employment?

Have schooling issues been researched properly? What are the schools in the area like? Has measured consideration been given to which would suit the child and which are available?    

Are there special cultural factors such as religion or a language?

Is there a back up plan in place if the proposals to move don’t work out?

What is the effect on the child of disruption with significant relationships and life already established in England?

Is the parent looking to relocate committed to maintaining contact between the child and the other parent and rest of the family?

Is contact financially viable? What are the costs of contact? How will the costs be funded? Is the proposed contact feasible in practice? What journeys can the child cope with?

What is the impact of refusal on the parent wishing to relocate? Is there medical/psychiatric/psychological evidence?

Does the legal system in the Country the parent is looking to move to offer any protection to the other parent such as ability to recognise and enforce contact orders made in England?



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