In a recent story line, Coronation Street tackles child relocation. Katie wishes to relocate with her son, Joseph, to Portugal where her estranged mother now lives.
Joseph’s father, Chesney, was initially reluctant to agree to this (for obvious reasons) but now appears to be consenting.
What, however, is Chesney’s legal position?
Section 1 of the Child Abduction Act 1984 states that a person connected with a child under the age of 16 commits an offence if he takes or sends the child out of the United Kingdom without the appropriate consent (subject to certain provisos).
Appropriate consent means the consent of the following:
- The child’s mother;
- The child’s father, if he has parental responsibility;
- Any guardian of the child;
- Any person whose favour a child arrangements order is enforced with respect of the child.
- Any person who has custody of the child.
The first point is, therefore, whether or not Chesney has parental responsibility.
A father will have parental responsibility for a child if he was married to the mother (which Chesney wasn’t), if they jointly registered the birth of the child with the mother (from 1 December 2003) or if they have a parental responsibility agreement or parental responsibility order from the court.
More information about parental responsibility can be found at www.gov.uk/parental-rights-responsibilites
Assuming Chesney has parental responsibility Katie needs his consent.
If he refuses to consent then she has the option to make an application to the family court for relocation and the court will consider this on the basis that the child’s welfare is the court’s paramount consideration.
They are required to consider the welfare check list as set out at section 1 (3) of the Children Act 1989 which provides that the court must have particular regard to:
- To ascertain to wishes and feelings of the child (considered in light of his / her age and understanding)
- Her or his physical emotional and educational needs.
- The likely effect of any change in her circumstances.
- Her or his age, sex, background and characteristics which the court considers relevant.
- Any harm which the child has suffered or is at risk of suffering.
- How capable each of the parents and any other person who the court considers is relevant is of meeting the child needs.
- The range of powers available to the court.
Maguire Family Law have previously blogged about the recent case law in terms of international relocation of children and what factors are taken into consideration. If you require further information about this please see our blog.
As an aside it is worth pointing out that section 13 of the Children Act 1989 provides that where a child arrangements order which relates to where the child will live (and with who) is in force with respect to a child no person may cause the child to be known by a new surname or remove them from the United Kingdom without either the written consent of every person who has parental responsibility for the child or the leave of the court. Subsection 2 of Section 13 states that this does not prevent the removal of a child, for a period of less than 1 month by the person in whose favour the child arrangements order is made with whom the child is to live and when. This means that where there is such an order the party in whose favour the order is made can, for example, take the child on holiday abroad without consent.
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