In the intricate domain of international family law, relocation cases represent a particularly challenging frontier. These cases often bring to the fore the delicate balance between the desire of a parent to move, perhaps for a new job, a fresh start, or to be closer to extended family, and the implications such a move has on the child involved.  At the heart of the judge’s approach to these cases is mainly the unwavering principle that the welfare of the child is paramount, a principle rooted in Section 1(3) of the Children Act 1989, which provides a comprehensive welfare checklist.

The debate over who is the child’s primary carer can often side-track discussions, leading them into unproductive territory. However, understanding the children’s current living arrangements prior to the relocation abroad can be vital. This knowledge forms the foundation for a thorough comparative analysis, assessing the potential impacts of both relocating and remaining in the current location. This process is crucial for making an informed decision that truly serves the child’s best interests.

At the start of each case the Court’s methodology does not inherently favour either staying put or moving. Instead, the court’s approach mainly involves a holistic analysis that carefully weighs the positives and negatives of each option. This approach facilitates a nuanced comprehension of how each scenario might benefit or disadvantage the child, ensuring that any decision is made with the fullest understanding of its implications.

The significance of familial relationships cannot be overstated in this context. The Children Act 1989 operates under the presumption that maintaining contact with both parents serves the child’s best interests, barring situations where such contact might be unsafe. Thus, any decision that could potentially sever or significantly alter these relationships requires rigorous scrutiny.

To this end, relocation proposals are subjected to a thorough proportionality evaluation. This critical step ensures that the anticipated benefits of the relocation convincingly outweigh any potential harm to the child’s familial relationships and overall well-being.

Key Takeaways:


  • Child’s Welfare as the Foremost Priority: Every decision is guided by the overarching principle that the child’s welfare is paramount.


  • Guidance from the Welfare Checklist: The assessment is anchored in the comprehensive welfare checklist outlined in the Children Act 1989.


  • Focus Beyond Primary Carer Designation: The primary carer debate is set aside in favour of understanding the child’s current living situation for a comparative analysis.


  • Holistic Analysis: A balanced approach weighs both the advantages and disadvantages of relocating versus staying, without bias towards either.


  • Importance of Familial Relationships: Recognizing the critical role of maintaining connections with both parents, unless deemed unsafe for the child.


  • Proportionality Evaluation: Ensuring that relocation offers a net benefit to the child’s welfare and family relationships.

In adopting this comprehensive and child-centric approach, the court’s aim is to navigate the complexities of relocation cases with fairness and empathy. By prioritizing the child’s best interests at every turn, the goal is to reach decisions that not only respect the legal framework but also honour the nuanced realities of family dynamics and child development.

In the realm of international family law, international child relocation cases are complex matters that necessitate a deep understanding of both legal frameworks and the nuanced impacts of relocation on all parties involved, especially the child. From my knowledge base, including insights from Paradigm Family Law’s approach and practices, here are key points that underscore the handling and considerations in international child relocation cases:

Mediation and/or Court Proceedings: While mediation offers a potentially quicker and less adversarial route to resolving disputes, some cases may ultimately require court intervention like in some international relocation cases. Whether through mediation or litigation, the focus remains on achieving outcomes that safeguard the child’s interests and promote a constructive way forward for the family.

International Legal Expertise and Network: Navigating the complexities of international relocation necessitates specialized legal expertise and a robust international network. Paradigm Family Law, under the leadership of co-founder Frank Arndt, leverages a global network of specialists to address intricate jurisdictional issues and ensure the legal strategies are tailored to the specific nuances of each case.


Paradigm Family Law have a team of experienced and highly recommended divorce lawyers to help guide you through the process of divorce, just waiting to hear from you.

If you would like more details on this or want to discuss your family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact James, Frank, or Evelyn. Paradigm Family Law offers a free initial consultation with a top rated divorce lawyer and our fixed fee solutions cover financial proceedings from start to finish. You can call us on 01904 217225 or email us to [email protected].