June 16th, 2017
In the case of M v F  EWHC 3194 (Fam) the mother’s application was for permission to relocate her two children out of the jurisdiction to the USA. The move was opposed by the father and the Children’s Guardian, but permitted by the court.
The parties had been in a relationship from 2007 until 2014. The relationship broke down after the father was convicted of ABH against the mother. Both parties formed new relationships. In 2015, the mother commenced a relationship with another man who lived in Utah, USA, whom she later married and became pregnant shortly before the final hearing. The parties had two children, aged 3 and 6, who continued to live with their mother. In 2016, the mother issued her application to relocate to Utah with both children.
When the courts consider any application for leave to remove, the welfare of the children is the court’s paramount consideration. The court must weigh up the pros and cons of the children being relocated. Article 8 rights to family life will also come into consideration.
In this case, the issues were in relation to the low level of contact the father had enjoyed with the children since separation. The court preferred the mother’s evidence (oral evidence and social media and text messages between her and the father) and found that the father’s explanations as to why he had often failed to attend and request contact were not good enough. The court also disagreed with the children’s guardian who had stated the mother was obstructive.
The court held that the children were too young for their wishes and feelings to be ascertained. However, it was likely they would wish to be cared for by their mother and have contact with their father. The court found the mother’s application was genuine and the father had not made a real commitment to his children. The court found that the mother’s application was well thought out and on balance were satisfied it was in the best interests of the children to relocate with the mother to Utah. The mother’s application was allowed.
This is a very complex area of the law, our advice would be, if you require assistance, to contact a specialist family law solicitor.
Stacey qualified as a Solicitor in 2011 having completed her training with Hine Solicitors in Beaconsfield. Stacey has since worked for the Legal 500 firm, Duncan Lewis Solicitors in London. Stacey has extensive experience in all areas of family law including advising clients in relation to co-habitation, divorce, matrimonial finances, pre & post-nuptial agreements. Stacey was delighted to join specialist practice Hawkins Family Law (The Legal 500 2015 recommends the team as “exemplary”) in February 2016 and has considerable experience resolving children issues whether they are in relation to where a child should live or issues regarding contact.
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