Home > Legal > Ex Wants to Take Child to Live in an EU Country: What Are My Rights?

Ex Wants to Take Child to Live in an EU Country: What Are My Rights?

By: Guest Article - Updated: 13 Dec 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Guest Article Child Eu Father Birth

People are much more international now. It is not uncommon for people to spend periods of time working abroad or to have relationships with someone from another country. International families are now common, but the international element can cause problems if the relationship ends and there are children. What if one parent wants to take the children to live in another country?

Thankfully most couples who separate are able to agree arrangements for their children between them, without the need for the help of solicitors, mediators or the court. Shared arrangements are becoming increasingly common, where the children spend similar amounts of time with their mother and father. Obviously this requires an element of cooperation between the parents and usually a close geographical proximity for it to work. The further apart the parents live the harder it is to make sure that the children have a full relationship with both parents, which is in their best interests in the vast majority of cases. This is particularly difficult to achieve if one of the parents decides that they would like to move to another country with the children. Given how easy it is to move within the EU, this is happening more and more. If this happens it is important that you know your legal position.

Do you have parental responsibility?

The first thing you must consider is do you have parental responsibility for your child? This allows you to have a say in the important decisions in your child's life, such as consenting to medical treatment, and more importantly, as in this case, a say in whether your child can move abroad permanently with your ex. As the law stands at present, all mothers automatically have parental responsibility for their child as soon as they are born. All father's married to the mother of their child also automatically have parental responsibility. Unmarried fathers whose child was born before 1st December 2003 do not have parental responsibility for their child unless it is formally granted by the court or a formal agreement is entered into with the child's mother in a prescribed form. Thankfully the law was changed in 2003, to take into account the fact that many unmarried couples now have children, and any father named on the birth certificate of a child born on or after 1st December 2003 automatically has parental responsibility for that child. If you are not named on your child's birth certificate as the father, you can obtain parental responsibility with the agreement of your child's mother or through the court.

If you have parental responsibility and your ex wants to take the child to live abroad, your ex needs your permission. If you are agreeable to this, it is always recommended that you obtain a court order confirming your agreement and also detailing your contact with the child once the child moves abroad. Once the English court order has been made, a "mirror" order should be obtained from a court in the EU country that the child is moving to, as once the child moves abroad, any issues regarding the child would be dealt with by a court in the country where the child lives and not by an English court. You will need a lawyer in the country that your child is moving to, to deal with this. Although this can be expensive and time consuming, if your ex later reneges on the agreement you will find it much easier to deal with this issue in the foreign court as there will be a formal record of the arrangements that were agreed.

What if you do not agree?

If you do not agree to your child moving abroad, your ex will need to apply to court and ask the court to make an order agreeing to her request. Every case of this nature is fact specific, so it is important that you obtain specialist legal advice so that you present your case in the best possible light to the judge. If the judge does agree to the child moving abroad, they will usually insist that the court order include details of the time that the child will spend with you. You will then be advised to obtain a "mirror" order in the country that the child is moving to.

If your ex takes the child abroad permanently without your consent, this is technically parental child abduction and there are international legal agreements between Britain and the other EU countries, which would hopefully facilitate the return of the child to this country. If this happens you must contact a specialist lawyer immediately as it is important that an application is made to court as soon as possible for the child's return. Once the child has been returned, the English court will have to decide if it is appropriate for the child to move abroad permanently with your ex.

If you are separated from your child's mother, there will inevitably be many issues that arise regarding your child. Hopefully you will be able to deal with these between you, but if not it is important that you obtain the advice of a specialist family lawyer, which will then enable you to consider the best way forward for you and your child.

About the Author

This was a guest blog written by Fiona Wood, Family Law partner at specialist divorce solicitors, Pannone Law Group.

Check out the Separated Dads Forum... It's a great resource where you can ask for advice on topics including Child Access, Maintenance, CAFCASS, Fathers Rights, Court, Behaviour or simply to have a chat with other dads.

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[Add a Comment]
Hello. My partner and i (unmarried) are both Irish but living in the UK, our baby boy was born this year in the UK but holds an Irish passport. His mother and i are unfortunately splitting up. I own and run a business in the UK and am not in a position to visit Ireland more than one weekend a month. She is talking about moving home and bringing our son with her. If somebody could please offer me some advice as to my rights on this matter it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
Alan1 - 13-Dec-17 @ 4:44 PM
My ex, my daughter and myself all live in the Caribbean. My daughter was granted a british citizenship by decent. I suspect my ex plans to move back to the UK with my 3 year old daughter, is there anything i can do to prevent this ?
Davey - 13-Dec-17 @ 5:56 AM
Hi I am an Indian National, currently residing in the UK illegally. My partner and 18 month old daughter are Italian. Recently I got direct contact after a long court proceedings. Now I suspect my wife will move to Italy with my daughter without my consent. If she does what I could do?
Moja - 9-Dec-17 @ 11:34 AM
Shauny - Your Question:
HiMy ex partner to be is Slovak. We have 2 kids together, problem I have is she moved there in 2014 to be closer to her parents as she had no support on this side in the UK. So I moved them over there. I tried working there but money was not great, so I came back to the UK on the basis that once I got a great job I'll get them to move back here. She has now filed for divorce this year 2017, and my question is to you do I have to pay child maintenance?? Secondly doesn't she need my permission to keep kids in a different country as it was only temporary? As they a British and recently just found out that she applied for Slovak birth certificate. I want to see my kids but it will cost me more in flying over aswell as paying somewhere to stay. I need help???

Our Response:
Unfortunately, there is little you can do in such circumstances if your children are now considered to be settled abroad. It is most unlikely a court would rule to uproot them and force them to move back to the UK. Whilst it is a criminal offence to remove a child from the UK without the permission of the other parent or order of the court, permission was given by you and it would be very difficult for this to be retracted now your children are living abroad. The best option you have is to attempt to negotiate with your ex directly about the payment of child maintenance and access arrangements. If you cannot negotiate directly, then an international court case will cost.
SeparatedDads - 8-Dec-17 @ 12:45 PM
Hi My ex partner to be is Slovak. We have 2 kids together, problem I have is she moved there in 2014 to be closer to her parents as she had no support on this side in the UK. So I moved them over there. I tried working there but money was not great, so I came back to the UK on the basis that once I got a great job I'll get them to move back here.... She has now filed for divorce this year 2017, and my question is to you do I have to pay child maintenance?? Secondly doesn't she need my permission to keep kids in a different country as it was only temporary? As they a British and recently just found out that she applied for Slovak birth certificate..... I want to see my kids but it will cost me more in flying over aswell as paying somewhere to stay. I need help???
Shauny - 7-Dec-17 @ 7:45 PM
Chandy - Your Question:
Hello, I don't know if it is the apt section to ask and get some basic details. But let me.We are an Indian family living in Germany since 5 years.Since years my wife had an opinion to settle in Germany and never wanted to go back India.Some months ago she filed a case to get complete children's custodial rights and court decided to give equal rights. Now she is separated(not divorced) from my family and kids are with me.Kids are with me after court investigations that she is not capable to take care of our kids as she is sick as well.She has no job and not willing to do any job and she wants money from my side that's all. When asked she will never ever give permissions to go back to India with kids for the permanent settlements.I have no intentions to separate kids from their mother but she is not allowing to execute my & kids interests to settle in India.I believe EU has mostly same laws followed across. recently I came to read about unmarried couples father exclusive rights to get child custody rights. But nothing found for married couples.My question is, Are there any laws or methods to approach court to get rights to relocate India along with kids? Thanks for any advice's, to move on.

Our Response:
As we are a UK-based site, we have no knowledge of German family law. But there will be an option to take this matter to court. I can only suggest you take legal advice.
SeparatedDads - 5-Dec-17 @ 2:16 PM
Hello, I don't know if it is the apt section to ask and get some basic details. But let me. We are an Indian family living in Germany since 5 years.Since years my wife had an opinion to settle in Germany and never wanted to go back India.Some months ago she filed a case to get complete children's custodial rights and court decided to give equal rights. Now she is separated(not divorced) from my family and kids are with me.Kids are with me after court investigations that she is not capable to take care of our kids as she is sick as well.She has no job and not willing to do any job and she wants money from my side that's all. When asked she will never ever give permissions to go back to India with kids for the permanent settlements.I have no intentions to separate kids from their mother but she is not allowing to execute my & kids interests to settle in India.I believe EU has mostly same laws followed across. recently I came to read about unmarried couples father exclusive rights to get child custody rights. But nothing found for married couples. My question is, Are there any laws or methods to approach court to get rights to relocate India along with kids? Thanks for any advice's, to move on...
Chandy - 5-Dec-17 @ 10:58 AM
Hello, I don't know if it is the apt section to ask and get some basic details. But let me. We are an Indian family living in Germany since 5 years.Since years my wife had an opinion to settle in Germany and never wanted to go back India.Some months ago she filed a case to get complete children's custodial rights and court decided to give equal rights. Now she is separated(not divorced) from my family and kids are with me.Kids are with me after court investigations that she is not capable to take care of our kids as she is sick as well.She has no job and not willing to do any job and she wants money from my side that's all. When asked she will never ever give permissions to go back to India with kids for the permanent settlements.I have no intentions to separate kids from their mother but she is not allowing to execute my & kids interests to settle in India.I believe EU has mostly same laws followed across. recently I came to read about unmarried couples father exclusive rights to get child custody rights. But nothing found for married couples. My question is, Are there any laws or methods to approach court to get rights to relocate India along with kids? Thanks for any advice's, to move on...
Chandy - 5-Dec-17 @ 10:58 AM
Sean - Your Question:
OK, Complicated.Me & my partner have a 4 year old Girl, she was born in the UK. We moved abroad to Spain when she was 1. we are not married. I bought us a house, and I work from Home and provide the income. My partner does not work. I supply all needs, such as food, water, electricity and bills ect.However me and my partner had an argument one night, at which point she stormed out and went to the spanish Police, the case was dealt with the next day in court, where all charges where dropped. Our solicitor then agreed to start a mutal custody order 50/50 which we both agreed to, she said it could take upto 1 week. In the time, I moved back into our family home, and my partner moved in with my daughter & a friend. 2 days Later she returned to the UK, and messaged me once arrived. " sorry I am back in the UK " taking my little girl. My solicitor tells me she can not do this, as we are in the process of a shared custody trial. What may happen ? I am so sad, and it kills me every day I do not see my little girl.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If your child been taken or kept overseas by their other parent or a relative without your permission, or if you are worried this might happen, this leaflet will tell you what you can do and who to contact, please see link here. A court can order a person to return your child to the country of residence, however, much will depends upon the Spanish courts in this instance (if the trial is due to be held in Spain). We can't advise what form this may take.
SeparatedDads - 4-Dec-17 @ 11:22 AM
Nat - Your Question:
HI, I have 15months old daughter wanna go back to Poland with her. Her dad is English and looks like he won’t agree to take her with me. I can’t leave here anymore, have no support if move out and get a flat on my own it will be really hard for me to take my baby to the nursery (cause of the hours I work ) I have all my family in Poland. They want me to come back. My mom has a really big flat I would have my own room even my baby would have own bedroom. They would help with looking after her when I’m at work and in general I would get more support back in there than here. Plus my ex partner is aggressive and being racist towards me in front of our child (I don’t think he realises she’s half polish) he’s even trying to stop me from seeing my family I’m not aloud to go to Poland with Maja on holiday or Christmas this year he took my passport of me last year took our daughters passport.just to stop me from booking flights.

Our Response:
If your child's father is English and has parental responsibility, then you would need his permission to leave the country, please see link here . As specified in the article, if your partner refuses, then you would have to apply to court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. If you are the day-to-day carer of your child and if you can prove your child would have a better life in your home country, then the court would not try to stop you getting on with your life elsewhere. The court will want to hear that you are open to your partner having access on a regular basis, so he can continue to develop an ongiong relationship with his child.
SeparatedDads - 4-Dec-17 @ 11:02 AM
OK, Complicated...... Me & my partner have a 4 year old Girl, she was born in the UK. We moved abroad to Spain when she was 1. we are not married. I bought us a house, and I work from Home and provide the income. My partner does not work. I supply all needs, such as food, water, electricity and bills ect. However me and my partner had an argument one night, at which point she stormed out and went to the spanish Police, the case was dealt with the next day in court, where all charges where dropped. Our solicitor then agreed to start a mutal custody order 50/50 which we both agreed to, she said it could take upto 1 week. In the time, I moved back into our family home, and my partner moved in with my daughter & a friend. 2 days Later she returned to the UK, and messaged me once arrived. " sorry i am back in the UK " taking my little girl. My solicitor tells me she can not do this, as we are in the process of a shared custody trial....... What may happen ? I am so sad, and it kills me every day i do not see my little girl.
Sean - 3-Dec-17 @ 6:05 PM
HI, I have 15months old daughter wanna go back to Poland with her. Her dad is English and looks like he won’t agree to take her with me. I can’t leave here anymore, have no support if move out and get a flat on my own it will be really hard for me to take my baby to the nursery (cause of the hours I work ) I have all my family in Poland. They want me to come back . My mom has a really big flat I would have my own room even my baby would have own bedroom . They would help with looking after her when I’m at work and in general i would get more support back in there than here. Plus my ex partner is aggressive and being racist towards me in front of our child (I don’t think he realises she’s half polish) he’s even trying to stop me from seeing my family I’m not aloud to go to Poland with Maja on holiday or Christmas this year he took my passport of me last year took our daughters passport...just to stop me from booking flights.
Nat - 3-Dec-17 @ 12:10 PM
I'm Portuguese and my ex-partner is Spanish. We are going through our separation now. We both live in the uk for over 15 years. Both children (9yo and 7 yo) were born in Spain but always lived here. Can she now move to Spain without my consent? Who could i contact to know about my rights?
Jorge - 29-Nov-17 @ 9:55 PM
I am Italian immgrant ....before I left Nigeria my son live with me and my parent and now my ex girlfriend have took my son ..And she have agreed to give me back my son and I want my son to come and live with me in Italy, what do I need to take the baby without any problems. Thank you
Mikel - 25-Nov-17 @ 10:40 AM
Hi, my ex partner it is not English, we had a child born in hers EU birth country, we never married and she never put me on the foreign birth certificate. She decided to leave UKand go back with the child. Both of them have not citizenship. What can I do to stop her?
Gar - 13-Nov-17 @ 8:23 PM
Ryan - Your Question:
Hi, my ex has had very little to do with our son for almost 4 years, and nothing at all for almost a year, he was born in july 2003 so is now 14. Me and my partner are wanting to to immigrate to australia when he has finished his GCSES. What do we need to do? Do we need to go mediation and court? Or would we be able to just get a letter from his mum? We will be applying for permanent visas. Thank you

Our Response:
If the other parent has parental responsibility of your child, you would have to request written permission to relocate. However, if your son's other parent refuses this, then you would have to suggest mediation as a way of trying to resolve the issue outside court. If this is not successful, you would have to apply to court. If the other parent has had very little to do with your child, then there is more of a chance you will be granted permission if you can justify your reasons why you wish to relocate. Also, if you show willing to keep the options for contact open with his other parent, then this will also help. Your application must be deemed to be for a genuine reason and not because you wish to alienate the other parent from your child's life.
SeparatedDads - 7-Nov-17 @ 2:37 PM
Brulara - Your Question:
Hi, I'm Brazilian and my husband is Romanian. we have a 10-month-old baby born here in the UK. He wants to get a divorce. And after the divorce I want to go to my country with my daughter. He does not want me to go, but I have all my family and I have support from them.He works all day, most of the time Saturday and had until Sundays. I'm a full-time mom, and I do everything for my baby. She is very very connect with me.I would like to know what my rights are to go back to my country with my daughter.Thank you so much

Our Response:
If your husband will not agree, you would have to apply to court for permission to return home. However, if you can give a good reason why you need to return to your home country, family, job, money, stability etc, then the court will not attempt to try to keep you in the UK. If you are the day-to-day primary carer of your child, then it is more likely the court will allow this.
SeparatedDads - 7-Nov-17 @ 1:01 PM
Hi, I'm Brazilian and my husband is Romanian. we have a 10-month-old baby born here in the UK. He wants to get a divorce. And after the divorce I want to go to my country with my daughter. He does not want me to go, but I have all my family and I have support from them. He works all day, most of the time Saturday and had until Sundays. I'm a full-time mom, and I do everything for my baby. She is very very connect with me. I would like to know what my rights are to go back to my country with my daughter. Thank you so much
Brulara - 4-Nov-17 @ 8:30 AM
Hi, my ex has had very little to do with our son for almost 4 years, and nothing at all for almost a year, he was born in july 2003 so is now 14. Me and my partner are wanting to to immigrate to australia when he has finished his GCSES. What do we need to do? Do we need to go mediation and court? Or would we be able to just get a letter from his mum? We will be applying for permanent visas. Thank you
Ryan - 3-Nov-17 @ 11:55 PM
Shaun - Your Question:
Hi,I am a UK resident who lives in the UK and work full time. I am devorsed to my ex wife and we have 2 children together. She moved to ibiza Spain 5 years ago with my permission with our children to live full time. They now have Spanish passports and have no intention of moving back to the uk.My question is, I have been paying money to my ex wife for both the children each month to help with there upbringing. Due to the cost of flying out and seeing them it puts massive amount of financial strain on me with paying for my children as well. Do I legally still have to pay child support each month if they live in Ibiza, or can I stop paying it and spent the money on flying out to see them and spending more time with them? Thanks

Our Response:
You don't say how you are paying. If you are paying directly via a family-based arrangement, then you can negotiate between you. If you are paying via an agency, then you may be able to request a variation, please see CAB link here.
SeparatedDads - 2-Nov-17 @ 12:04 PM
Hi, I am a UK resident who lives in the UK and work full time. I am devorsed to my ex wife and we have 2 children together. She moved to ibiza Spain 5 years ago with my permission with our children to live full time. They now have Spanish passports and have no intention of moving back to the uk. My question is, I have been paying money to my ex wife for both the children each month to help with there upbringing. Due to the cost of flying out and seeing them it puts massive amount of financial strain on me with paying for my children as well. Do I legally still have to pay child support each month if they live in Ibiza, or can I stop paying it and spent the money on flying out to see them and spending more time with them? Thanks
Shaun - 1-Nov-17 @ 10:50 AM
Monika - Your Question:
Hi,I have two children borth born in UK 2003 and 2008 I`m Czech and my ex partner Italian still living in UK. I`m planning to move abroad for a year as my dad is very ill to look after him. My ex partner refused to give me permission in our family court to take my 8year old with me. My daughter would remain in UK because GSCE`s. How do I apply for the court order? Do I have to get solicitors involved or can I apply myself as my finances are tight.Manty thanks for advice.

Our Response:
If your ex partner refuses his consent, then you could suggest mediation as a way of trying to negotiate an agreement, please see link here. The court may request this before it will allow you to apply. If your ex refuses any negotiation, or if mediation fails then you would have to apply to court, which you can do yourself, please see link here and here . If you can't afford legal representation, then you can self-litigate, please see link here and you may get a reduction on your court fees if you are on a low income here.
SeparatedDads - 31-Oct-17 @ 9:53 AM
Hi, I have two children borth born in UK 2003 and 2008 I`m Czech and my ex partner Italian still living in UK. I`m planning to move abroad for a year as my dad is very ill to look after him. My ex partner refused to give me permission in our family court to take my 8year old with me. My daughter would remain in UK because GSCE`s.. How do I apply for the court order? Do I have to get solicitors involved or can I apply myself as my finances are tight.. Manty thanks for advice.
Monika - 30-Oct-17 @ 3:32 PM
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fernandaz - 24-Oct-17 @ 4:24 PM
Im currently going through a divorce, my wife has said that she wants to take our 5 and 9 year old back to Russia where she original cam from.I obviously don't want this to happen, we have an agreement of 50/50 responsibility.I have them 2 days she has them 2 days and so on. Is she able to take them out of the country? and if she does do the laws extend to Russia? Thanks
Carlos - 24-Oct-17 @ 10:26 AM
sezer - Your Question:
Can an ex (child's father) take a 16 year old to live in Spain with him without mothers consent? She is in middle of education in UK. The daughter wants to live with ex for the reason she stated: she's allowed more freedom and can drink and go out til whenever she likes. He took her underhanded behind my back. And since being there only 2 weeks ago has allowed her a tattoo and to start seeing one of his friends who is 29? Aswell as drink and go out all night.

Our Response:
Your ex would have to get your consent to take your child out of the country, please see link here. If he attempts to move her abroad without your consent, he could be charged with abduction. If you feel he may try without your consent, you can apply to court for a Prohibited Steps Order. A PSO, is an order granted by the court in family cases which prevents either parent from carrying out certain events or making specific trips with their children without the express permission of the other parent. This is more common in cases where there is suspicion that one parent may leave the area with their children. There is no guarantee the courts would rule in your favour. However, if your daughter is in education, then it is highly unlikely a court would rule to disrupt her studies. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the child in question. The court will always put the child’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 20-Oct-17 @ 12:39 PM
Can an ex (child's father) take a 16 year old to live in Spain with him without mothers consent? She is in middle of education in UK. The daughter wants to live with ex for the reason she stated: she's allowed more freedom and can drink and go out til whenever she likes. He took her underhanded behind my back. And since being there only 2 weeks ago has allowed her a tattoo and to start seeing one of his friends who is 29? Aswell as drink and go out all night.
sezer - 19-Oct-17 @ 7:12 AM
Matt - Your Question:
My ex wife has been offered a job in Qatar and wants to take my 13 year old son. I’m happy for him to go, I would just like to know that because she has decided to apply for the job and move over there. Does she have to make (pay) the arrangements for him to get back to see me.

Our Response:
There is no specific law that says your ex should pay for return flights for your son to see you. This would have to be agreed between you. Mediation may be a way to negotiate this, please see link here .
SeparatedDads - 13-Oct-17 @ 3:00 PM
My ex wife has been offered a job in Qatar and wants to take my 13 year old son. I’m happy for him to go, I would just like to know that because she has decided to apply for the job and move over there. Does she have to make (pay) the arrangements for him to get back to see me.
Matt - 12-Oct-17 @ 7:40 PM
Quintin - Your Question:
Hi I’m still married have been for 14 years. Me and my wife decided to move to china as she is Chinese. We are both British. Anyways I lived in china for 7 years but as a foreigner in china it was very hard and could sometimes become very depressing. I have 3 beautiful kids and she does not want to return to the uk as she believes the uk is not good for the children which is against my believes. What can I do to get them back here in the uk.

Our Response:
You would not be allowed to take your children from the country without your wife's consent. Therefore, if your wife does not agree, then your only option would be to apply to court. However, it is unlikely any court would allow you to uproot your children from their parent and country without very good reason.
SeparatedDads - 10-Oct-17 @ 12:14 PM
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