The following considerations are likely to be important in considering the vast majority of international relocation cases:
- the motivation of the applicant parent, in particular whether her motivation is to disrupt the child’s relationship with the respondent parent;
- the motivation of the respondent parent, in particular whether his motivation is to exert control over the applicant rather than having a focus on the child’s welfare;
- the level of planning which the applicant has put into the proposals for relocation, bearing in mind that more planning can be expected when the application involves a leap into the unknown than when the parent is proposing to return to a place that she knows well;
- conversely, the court will need to ask about the respondent’s alternative plan if he puts one forward, perhaps bearing in mind that he may have had rather less time than the applicant to think through his proposals, depending how quickly the case has developed;
- the proposals that each parent puts forward for promoting the continued involvement of the other parent in the child’s life if their plan is accepted by the court, bearing in mind practicalities like cost and time for travel, together with factors relevant because of the child’s age (such as with you’re children whether they can fly unaccompanied, or with older children whether they are likely to want to spend all their holidays with their parent rather than with friends);
- the child’s own wishes and feelings, which will naturally take on more importance as the child gets older, though bearing in mind that many children do not want to choose between their parents and may not want the burden of responsibility;
Dr Rob George is a leading expert on international family law, particularly in relation to relocation disputes, child abduction, jurisdiction, and international and domestic surrogacy cases. He has published numerous books and papers on these subjects, and been involved with many cases in related areas.
The new edition of his book, Relocation: A Practical Guide will be out in March.