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Can my 'ex' move away with my kids?

Feb 18, 2021: 

This is a very common issue that we encounter and advise upon regularly.  We also get the same question asked by the person thinking of moving: “can my ex can stop me moving away with our children?” 

The reasons for co-parents moving can be varied, to get some space, mentally or geographically, or for the purposes of a new job, or indeed to begin a new life with a new partner.  Whatever the reason for the move it needs careful consideration and communication is key.

What is the legal position?

The position in law is informed by the specifics of the situation, particularly whether an agreement dealing with how the children are cared for is already in place between the co-parents.  If so how has it been working?

The best first step when one of the co-parents wants to move, is to talk openly and calmly with the other co-parent(s).  This discussion should be attempted at an early stage, before the children are involved.   This then avoids the potential move being communicated in a less than positive way.  The last thing you want is for the message to be communicated through the children! 

If the co-parents are willing they should try to find a way forward that works for everyone and that keeps the children’s best interest at the centre of whatever solution is found.   

If you are able to find an agreed way forward, its then helpful if the co-parents can sit down together with the children to explain and reassure them about any potential changes to the status quo.  Relationship breakdowns are a very challenging time for any family, so taking the time to appear as a united front will help the children to be comfortable and to cope with the changes being proposed.

What if they are moving out of the country?

If the proposed move is out of the country, the situation becomes somewhat more complicated.  How will contact happen between the children and the co-parent remaining here?  Its regularly the case that in this situation co-parents struggle to reach an agreement.  In that situation either or both of the co-parents might consider making an application to the court. Either seeking approval to move away or seeking that the court agree to prevent the children from moving away. 

Recent case law has departed from the stance that the co-parent who is the primary carer for the children can make a decision to move the children unilaterally.  It is now the case that the court will weigh the best interest of the child/ren, considering what impact a reduction in the contact with the remaining co-parent will have. 

We have successfully represented co-parents on both sides of this argument.  The situation is a difficult one requiring the utmost sensitivity and consideration. 

Contact us now

Are you in this position? If so please click here to make a free, confidential enquiry with one of our specialist family solicitors. 


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