Arranging Child Contact when One Parent Moves Abroad
We understand that maintaining contact and spending valuable time with your child is important to you and is one of the most difficult aspects of divorce. When one parent makes the decision to move abroad, it is essential that arrangements are in place for contact with the remaining parent. There are of course many practical and financial considerations for both parties when making child contact arrangements, as well as taking into account what might be best for your child.
In this article we look at how child contact arrangements are made in the UK and the process of negotiating child contact when one parent wants to move abroad.
Where parents divorce or separate, arrangements for the care of their children will normally be made by agreement between the parties. There is no standard or typical arrangement or rules prescribing how childcare should be apportioned – it is up to the parties to come to their own agreement.
Of course, arrangements become more complicated where parents live in different countries and cost and inconvenience may be a significant factor. Reaching an agreement can be challenging for many reasons and you may wish to consult a solicitor even where discussions are at an informal stage.
If you cannot agree between yourselves arrangements for child contact, you may wish to get assistance from a mediator. A mediator is an independent third party who will guide discussions towards a mutually agreeable solution. If you cannot come to an agreement with the assistance of a mediator, it may be necessary to apply to the court for a Child Arrangements Order.
The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced the concept of a Child Arrangements Order and also the presumption of parental involvement, where the court should presume that involvement of a parent in the life of the child concerned will further the child’s welfare. Involvement means any kind of direct or indirect contact with the child.
If you are a parent of the child, you can apply to the court for a Child Arrangements Order which will set out arrangements for contact with your child. Every child arrangements order is different, we can provide advice on your specific circumstances.
It is important to remember that contact is the right of the child not the parent. How much time you will get to spend with your child will be dependent on many factors – but there is no entitlement to a certain amount of contact time in UK family law. However, the court may award you contact as part of a Child Arrangements Order which will be enforceable in the EU, and in many other countries.
Every Child Arrangements Order is different, we can provide advice on your specific circumstances. Factors which may affect contact arrangements include:
- What is in the best interests of the child
- How old your child is
- How far way the other parent lives (for example, travel to Ireland is much more straightforward and cheaper than travel to Australia)
- Which parent has had responsibility for child care until now
- The wishes of the child (depending on their age)
As part of negotiations with your former partner, you may seek to agree regular indirect contact with your child. Indirect contact can be particularly valuable if your former partner moves abroad with your child and you don’t get to spend time with them as often as you would like. You can agree regular telephone or video calls. Skype, Facetime and Zoom can be an effective way to engage even younger children as they will be able to see your face. We can help you to secure the best forms of indirect contact with children living abroad.
It is always desirable for parents to come to an agreement in respect of the arrangements for their children, such as, where the children should live, who they should spend time with, holiday contact, and taking a child abroad whether temporarily or permanently. Our expert UK solicitors can advise you on the best possible solutions for you and your family.
Contact our UK International Children and Contact Disputes Lawyers in Manchester, London and Birmingham
Our experienced international children and contact dispute lawyers are ready to help you make legal arrangements for your children. Speak to a member of our specialist family law team today on 0330 107 0107 or request a call back.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.
Published by: Iwona Durlak
IMD Solicitors LLP