Internal relocation is where a child relocates (usually with one of his parents) from one part of the UK to another. The UK is defined as Great Britain (that is England, Wales and Scotland) and Northern Ireland but excludes the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. There are no laws preventing someone from relocating a child from one part of the UK to another although there have been cases historically which provide some guidance on how to approach internal relocation.
If a parent wishes to move to a different part of the UK and this is not agreed with the other parent who shares parental responsibility then an application to court for a specific issue order should be made. Similarly, if a parent wishes to prohibited the resident parent’s movements within the UK, then an application for a prohibited steps order should be made.
The rationale and considerations used in deciding an internal relocation differ to those in overseas relocation cases. This being said, the overriding consideration for the court is the welfare of the child or children in question. It is the general view of the court that restraining the movement of the resident parent is an unsustainable restriction on adult liberties and would likely have an adverse effect on the welfare of the child by denying the resident parent with the freedom of choice.
There has been a shift in the court’s approach over the years. The recent case of Re C(Internal Relocation)  where an application was made by a parent to move with the child to another party of the UK was determined based upon the child’s welfare and also used the same tests and rationale as with an external relocation. A Child Arrangement Order naming a parent as the person with whom the child lives does not necessarily allow that parent to relocate internally, similarly a child arrangement order naming both parents as person with whom the child lives as a shared care arrangement does not prevent an internal relocation by one parent.
In conclusion, the court is unlikely to prevent a parent from choosing where they should live in the UK unless the child’s welfare requires it.
If you are considering relocating with your children it is imperative that you take legal advice early. Our solicitors specialise in family law and can help you through the process.
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