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Internal Relocation

UK and most international law prevents a parent from removing a child from England or Wales without the permission of all persons with parental responsibility for that child.

A difficult issue is presented when one parent seeks to move some distance from the other, causing potential disruption to the family relationship or the time that the child can spend with a parent.

If you are seeking to relocate a child who you have parental responsibility for,or wish to oppose the relocation of your child, you can speak to the child law experts at Ramsdens Solicitors. We will help you to understand the complexities of national and international child law. Call us today on 01924 431 774, email us at, or fill out an online contact form.


If the parent wishing to move has sole care of the children, or is named as the person with whom the children live under a child arrangement order, they do not normally have to seek the Family Court’s permission to relocate with the children. Nevertheless,, the practical arrangement set down in any existing order of the Family Court may need to be maintained asotherwise an application to the Court may be necessary to make a change to the order.

In circumstances where an order may need to be changed, the parent with whom the children do not reside can apply to the Court for a prohibited steps order. Internal relocation will be prevented should this be successful. Alternatively, they could apply for a child arrangement order asking the Court to determine that the child or children will reside with them.

For parents or carers who are wishing to relocate a child due to alleged domestic abuse issues, a child protection investigation may first need to be carried out to assess the situation.

Parents with a “Live With “ residence provision under a Child Arrangements Order are permitted the right to take children on holiday, but the duration of this time away is restricted to less than one month unless there is additional permission or provision.


The need for internal relocation can arise in many circumstances. The most common situations can include those where:

  • The applicant has remarried or is in a new relationship, and the new partner’s job or business has been relocated to another part of the UK.
  • The applicant has been offered employment in another part of the UK and/or their role is being relocated to another part of the UK.
  • The applicant wishes to return to the part of the country they grew up in to be closer to their friends and family following separation/divorce.
  • The applicant wants to relocate with the child for lifestyle reasons, for example, wishing to leave a town or city in favour of living in the countryside or on the coast.

Typically, the applicant is the parent with whom the child lives. The situation where the child lives with both parents at two homes is dealt with below.


A parent of a child has a number of options should another individual with parental responsibility attempt to relocate their child:

  • Accept that the children will move and apply for a new child arrangement order. If an agreement cannot be made even with the assistance of mediation, ensuring that lost time is made up for through an increase in holiday time or weekends. Mediation must be completed before any application for a child arrangement order is made, unless in cases of an emergency.
  • Apply for a prohibited steps order to prevent the children from moving or impose a condition to a residence order. This condition may prevent a parent moving the child from a particular geographic area such as a town, city or county - it is essential that this is done prior to any move.
  • Apply for a new child arrangement order. This could include an application for the children to change the parent with whom they live, and the parent relocating to be able to spend time with the children on weekends and holidays.

In reality, the primary carer’s request to relocate a child is unlikely to be refused unless there are compelling reasons to do so. These may be for welfare reasons or if the plans are unreasonable, unrealistic or poorly planned. It is also possible to argue exceptional circumstances if the move is a means of frustrating the relationship between the children and the non-resident parent.

Internal relocation cases apply similar principles as external relocation cases in terms of challenges and tests, although internal relocation matters may be less complex depending on the circumstances. Each case will depend on its own facts, and the children’s welfare will be the paramount concern of the Court.

Contact Us

Call our Child Care Helpline on 01924 431 774 or email to book a free information session with our internal relocation Child Law experts at any of our offices. Alternatively, fill out an online contact form and we will return your call.