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Ask The Legal Expert: Your Child Living Abroad - Resolving Disputes Between Parents

View profile for Angela Killa
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Angela Killa, Associate Solicitor within the Family Law team here at JCP Solicitors, tackles an issue around parental disputes over taking a child abroad to live.

My ex-wife is considering taking a job in Germany, which would see her take our 12-year-old daughter with her. We have, until now, dealt with shared arrangements well, but we’re struggling to find a compromise on this. I don’t want to clip my ex-wife’s wings, but I fear losing my bond with my child if she were to live abroad. What can I do?

This is an emotionally fraught situation and, as parents, you have both done well to put your daughter’s interests first by reaching an amicable arrangement up to this point.

If you both share Parental Responsibility then Under the Child Abduction Act 1984 it is a criminal offence to remove a child from the country without permission either from you, as her father, or from the Court.

In the first instance I would advise that you attempt to reach an agreement by attending mediation. This could cost less and be less traumatic than attending Court.  Also, the Court won’t accept your application, save for in limited or urgent circumstances, unless you have tried to mediate.

If mediation has failed and you have refused to give your ex-wife written consent for this move she may pursue a Specific Issue Order from the Court granting permission.   
In response, the Court would hold a First Hearing and Dispute Resolution Hearing, which you should attend, to detail your objections. Your ex-wife would be expected to supply the Court with details about why she feels this move would be beneficial for your daughter.   The Court is likely to order a professional report into your daughter’s welfare – which will be the paramount consideration when it comes to any decision on a Court Order.

As well as opposing the Specific Issue Order, you also have the option to apply to the Court yourself for a Prohibited Steps Order, which, if granted, could prevent your ex leaving the UK with your daughter.

Alternatively or in addition to a Prohibited Steps Order, you could pursue a Child Arrangements Order. This could be used to regulate the time your child spends with each parent. It is clear from your question that you want to reach an accord - Clearly a move to Europe would impact all of you, but if it were to go ahead you may be able to find a workable arrangement that suits you all for example, your daughter could spend the majority of her school holidays with one parents and the rest of her time with the other parent.

If you would like more information on the subject, please contact Angela on: 01267 248893 or by email at:

Angela is an Associate Solicitor in our Family Team, based at our Carmarthen Office. Angela specialises in all aspects of Family Law including complex children matters, divorce and financial remedies. Angela is a member of Resolution, an organisation for professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes, and is also a member of the Law Society's Children Panel.  Angela is a fluent Welsh speaker. 

For further advice, please contact our specialist Family Solicitors in:

  • Swansea: 01792 773773
  • Cardiff: 02920 225472
  • Carmarthen: 01267 234022
  • Caerphilly: 02920 860628
  • Cowbridge: 01446 771742
  • Haverfordwest: 01437 764723
  • Fishguard: 01348 873671

The question posed is based upon a hypothetical situation.