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

By: Guest Article - Updated: 8 Feb 2019 | 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]
Hi, my ex partner and I have too children together,I'm now married to someone else and now thinking of moving country,my ex is not involve in the children's live, he hasn't seen them for 5 years now. do I need permission from him before moving?
clau - 7-Feb-19 @ 11:35 PM
Hi! I gaved birth to My child in uk, the father and i decided we wanted to live in My homeland, so we moved and after 3 months he moved back to uk, now he claims i have kidpanned the child and that he Will take me to court! We have settle down here and lived here in 2 years
Lele - 30-Jan-19 @ 11:51 AM
Hi! I gave birth to My daughter in uk, My partner decided he wanted to live in My homeland so we moved there but he quickly moved back to uk, now he accusing me of taking My daughter! Help!
Sara - 27-Jan-19 @ 10:41 PM
@cjo707.after 8 years I (seriously don’t think you need permission) .happy moving in my opinion may your move be prosperous filled with joy and happiness.why even bother writing in this blog after this amount off time gone bye ?.get a life you only have one life to live so live it ?.my x never had the (courage )to tell me she was cheating had to find though my own family now I see it as a blessing so if she moved to another country would be better then sliced bread.
Chris laurie - 20-Jan-19 @ 4:42 AM
my son has not seen his father for over 8 years and no contact due to court order . im looking at moving out ofuk to Belgium do i need any permission or anything ?
cj0707 - 19-Jan-19 @ 10:48 PM
Hi, I've been divorced about a year now and have two young daughters all living in Spain. My daughters r Spanish. I recently went to issue their passport with my ex, so they could visit my family for vacation and also her family. She has taken them to see her family first while saying she will join me. She told me about this when she was in her way to the airport. So I was not to happy with that. Now she dose not want me to take them to my family and instead wants to take them somewhere again. Also she is taking about moving to another country, Switzerland. So I have joint custody and she can't do that, but is there any way for me to cancel or block my kids passport because she leaves without my knowledge and permission? Do I go to a police station where they issued the passports and they can put something on a flight system so if she tries to take them then they would stop them at the airport? Thanks
Karl - 25-Dec-18 @ 1:45 AM
Hi, My now ex-partner took our daughter from the UK and to Germany 3 years ago.I had, and still have, PR. At the time my partner made out that she wanted to continue the relationship and we would work things out over the next year or so. I was not able to move at this time but I believed we would all be together again in the near future. My ex did not initiate any conversations about the future and eventually I painfully conceded that she had no intention of doing so and probably never did. This promise of future discussion seems to have obscured what was in effect childabduction. They are now settled in Germany and my daughter has an established life which I do not wish to disrupt for her own sake. I am wondering what my rights are now regards access and how the burden of travel costs to see my daughter is taken into account. They do not visit the UK.
D - 26-Nov-18 @ 4:45 PM
Hi all, great website with great info. I live in the EU and the ex lives in another country in the EU with my 4 yold. She wants to move within that EU country to a place that will be much further and more difficult to get to from my EU country for purely economic reasons - lower cost of living. We have a legal agreement in place for custody and visitation and finance. Do I have a say in her decision to move my child further away from me and my family? Thanks for any info.
SingleDad - 10-Nov-18 @ 6:07 PM
I am divorced from my wife and have an 11 yr old son with a joint custody order in place. My son lives with my exduring the week and comes to me at the weekends and 50% of his holidays. My ex now wants to take my son to live in the Czech Republic as she has family there but I do not agree. I already have a joint custody order, a prohibited steps order and a financial order. My wife has a uk passport What are my rights towards my son and if she moves do I still have to honour the financial order?
Ade - 4-Nov-18 @ 2:11 PM
My ex has a new partner I’m concerned about the welfare of my daughter how do I go about protecting her innocence she’s only three i.e.Sarah’s Law who do I contact to get a background check on her new partner many thanks Richard
Richard - 17-Oct-18 @ 3:02 PM
Hi I was hoping you could advise me. my wife left me without permission to take my child to a European country I never agreed but I didn't think I would stand the chance in court. now I use to go there every month to see the children and now she's stopped me for no reason whatsoever. she said that if I come within 5 metres she's going to call the police. she has no reason to do this and I don't know where to start or what to do because I've heard so many horror stories of people spending lots of money and not getting anywhere can you advise me what the best thing to do is I've been nice and tried to reason with her but she has a Vendetta against me
Joe - 18-Sep-18 @ 11:36 AM
Wonderinggdad - Your Question:
Can my ex and her partner move to northern Ireland without my permission? I do have pr and have agreed to see my children every 12 weeks, but that was only in England.

Our Response:
You ex must get the permission of everyone with parental responsibility for a child or from a court before taking the child abroad, please see the link here. If you refuse, your children's other parent would have to apply to court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question. The court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
SeparatedDads - 4-Sep-18 @ 11:18 AM
Can my ex and herpartner move to northern Ireland without my permission? I do have pr and have agreed to see my childrenevery 12 weeks, but that was only in England.
Wonderinggdad - 30-Aug-18 @ 1:36 PM
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Remy Samson - 26-Aug-18 @ 6:00 AM
I am a British mother (resident in England) and have an 11 year old son with a Polish father (resident in Poland).Dad recently gained parental responsibility through mutual agreement.After discussion with dad and a need for my son to have a male role model, dad and I have considered our son living in Poland for a 6 month period then in England for a 6 month period.Dad and I are friendly and there is no battle for residency, only concern for our son's best interest, mainly his need for a father figure.Is such an arrangement possible?
Sands - 25-Aug-18 @ 7:20 AM
Hello, I have a question. I have a son in Luthuania. We never have been married with sons mothers. She was drug addicted, and eventually she was temporary restricted for her parental autority. Then shas has been jailed. Now I have my parental responsibilities. I brought my son to th UK, as Im living here. Mother now out from prison., and she applied for limitation of patental restriction. What shall I do? Thank you
Erik - 22-Aug-18 @ 11:29 PM
Hct - Your Question:
Hi, I have 2 daughter's 6 and 4 and my ex wants to move back to her country of origin , within EU, but I don't agree with that, what are my rights ? I also have PR I see them regularly, I pay CM , she moved like 50 miles away, she keep asking me to move closer, but I have work commitments, I can't move , she's basically blackmail me all the time. The girls don't want to move.I just want to know about my rights , can I get some advice please!

Our Response:
If your ex wishes to move from the country with your children, then she has to request your permission, please see the link here. If you refuse, then she would have to apply to court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question. The court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
SeparatedDads - 17-Aug-18 @ 9:49 AM
My wife is Malaysian. me and my son are British He is only 1 year old She has moved back to Malaysia with my son While I work away with full support from me.. Plan was to save up and move to Malaysia But she wants to split up and keep my son there. What are my rights to get my son back to the UK Can I cancel his uk passport so she can't get visa extensions
Snoopy - 13-Aug-18 @ 10:20 PM
KG123 - Your Question:
I would like to help a Turkish national still residing in Turkey to reunite with his children. He was married to an English woman for 10 years and they were married at the time of the children's birth although the wife came back to have the second child here. Since then she is refusing visitation full stop. What are the first steps to resolve this?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, your friend's only reocurse would be to seek legal advice in his home country as in order to apply for access, then matter would have to be heard in the international family court.
SeparatedDads - 6-Aug-18 @ 1:37 PM
I would like to help a Turkish national still residing in Turkey to reunite with his children. He was married to an English woman for 10 years and they were married at the time of the children's birth although the wife came back to have the second child here. Since then she is refusing visitation full stop. What are the first steps to resolve this?
KG123 - 5-Aug-18 @ 1:42 PM
Hi, I have 2 daughter's 6 and 4 and my ex wants to move back to her country of origin , within EU,but I don't agree with that,what are my rights ? I also have PR I see them regularly,I pay CM , she moved like 50 miles away, she keep asking me to move closer, but I have work commitments,I can't move , she's basically blackmail me all the time. The girls don't want to move. I just want to know about my rights , can I get some advice please!
Hct - 3-Aug-18 @ 8:28 PM
DNash - Your Question:
Hi,My daughter moved to Finland almost 3 years ago, I was stupid and thought I was doing the right thing for her and letting her mother live her life and gave permission. However after realising all the promises were a lie of bringing her back regularly and the expenses of going over there and seeing how far behind she is compared to children her own age and on top the parenting of my ex. I want her to come home. She has also tried to seek child maintenance when I made it clear in order to maintain a proper relationship with my daughter I needed to come to Finland to see her, but its so expensive. She doesn't have a job over there and seems to have gone from one benefit system to another. I am at a loss and I have a child at home who has been very sick and I am the sole provider in my household. My ex wife doesn't seem to care about the relationship with my daughter and just wants money for nothing regardless of anyone elses needs, but can afford to go on holiday whenever she wants. My holidays are not family ones, as at £600 a pop each time I go over, I am left paying the visit off each time. I have also assisted her family when they have come down the 2 times in 3 years, with finance so she can come over. Now Kela are chasing me again and potentially are going to cripple me and stop me from being able to see my daughter. Its a random one, but if anyone can help.

Our Response:
By law you have to pay child maintenance in order to help support your child. Likewise, no court is going to force your ex to bring your child home to the UK now she is settled in another country. I presume if your ex is on benefits, then she both needs financial support towards your child and she cannot afford to help pay for you to come to Finland. Unfortunately, it means you are both in a limbo situation with no perceivable fault on either side. Child access and child maintenance have no bearing upon each other, meaning you still have to pay child maintenance regardless of whether you see your child or not and the mother of your child has every right to claim it. The only option you may have is to apply for a special expenses variation (you can see the UK version here .)
SeparatedDads - 3-Aug-18 @ 11:54 AM
cowman - Your Question:
I am from Ireland, and I currently have a 4 and half year old with a girl from my area. We broke up 6 months after my son was born and ever since it has been a struggle with my ex over my son. Currently I get my son every 2nd weekend from 6 on Friday until 5 on Sunday. In between then I only see my son for 1hour 30 minutes for the remaining 2 weeks. I live 10 minutes from my son and I work closely to where he goes to crèche and lives currently. My ex does not allow me to bring him to crèche or does not let me get involved in anything else to do with my son and it gets me down. we have been to court for me to get the times mentioned above. Its 2 years on since we went to court and I want more access. I work 9-5 Monday to Friday and I want to be best dad I can be and not go back to court but in terms of communication and working on a parenting plan we are planets apart. I don't want to go back to court but I have suggested mediation and she will not attend. I Don't want to go back to court but I see no other option and I want more time and involvement I my sons life. I have tried talk to my ex face to face but the conversations are not productive and we just end up arguing rather then discussing the matter at hand. What do you think I should do or should I just leave things be. I want more time with my son but if I leave it go I wont get any more time

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. Much depends upon what the court order says. If it specifies that access should be built upon through a parenting plan and more granted and your ex is refusing, then you may wish to take the matter to court (if your ex refuses to attend mediation). If this is the case, then you should show your attempts of how you have tried to negotiate but your ex continues to be obstructive. This then represents a breach of the court order, please see the link here . If the order is a standard one that allows access every other weekend and one night in the week, the courts may not allow you to apply. In this case, you may wish to seek some legal advice to fully explore your options. I hope this helps.
SeparatedDads - 3-Aug-18 @ 10:38 AM
I am from Ireland, and I currently have a 4 and half year old with a girl from my area. We broke up 6 months after my son was born and ever since it has been a struggle with my ex over my son. Currently I get my son every 2nd weekend from 6 on Friday until 5 on Sunday. In between then I only see my son for 1hour 30 minutes for the remaining 2 weeks. I live 10 minutes from my son and I work closely to where he goes to crèche and lives currently. My ex does not allow me to bring him to crèche or does not let me get involved in anything else to do with my son and it gets me down. we have been to court for me to get the times mentioned above. Its 2 years on since we went to court and I want more access. I work 9-5 Monday to Friday and I want to be best dad I can be and not go back to court but in terms of communication and working on a parenting plan we are planets apart. I don't want to go back to court but I have suggested mediation and she will not attend. I Don't want to go back to court but I see no other option and I want more time and involvement I my sons life. I have tried talk to my ex face to face but the conversations are not productive and we just end up arguing rather then discussing the matter at hand. What do you think I should do or should I just leave things be. I want more time with my son but if I leave it go I wont get any more time
cowman - 2-Aug-18 @ 10:30 AM
Hi, My daughter moved to Finland almost 3 years ago, I was stupid and thought i was doing the right thing for her and letting her mother live her life and gave permission. However after realising all the promises were a lie of bringing her back regularly and the expenses of going over there and seeing how far behind she is compared to children her own age and on top the parenting of my ex. I want her to come home. She has also tried to seek child maintenance when I made it clear in order to maintain a proper relationship with my daughter i needed to come to Finland to see her, but its so expensive. She doesn't have a job over there and seems to have gone from one benefit system to another. I am at a loss and I have a child at home who has been very sick and I am the sole provider in my household. My ex wife doesn't seem to care about the relationship with my daughter and just wants money for nothing regardless of anyone elses needs, but can afford to go on holiday whenever she wants. My holidays are not family ones, as at £600 a pop each time i go over, I am left paying the visit off each time. I have also assisted her family when they have come down the 2 times in 3 years, with finance so she can come over. Now Kela are chasing me again and potentially are going to cripple me and stop me from being able to see my daughter. Its a random one, but if anyone can help.
DNash - 2-Aug-18 @ 8:43 AM
Jimmy - Your Question:
Hello. I am currently in a relationship with an American girl, we have a son together and plan to marry. I also have a son and a daughter with my ex wife. I have parental responsibility of them both, We have them at least 3 nights a week and in the school holidays they are with us more often than not. My question is, I have been offered a job in America, my partners family are there and it is my belief that we will enjoy a much better standard of life there. Ideally I want to take all three of my children but I understand that that is just unrealistic as their mother would never consent to it. I have asked her (my ex) if she would allow me to have them over there for extended periods at a time, to which she has also refused. In a nutshell she has essentially said that if I move and want to see my children I have to come back and spend time with them in England before leaving again, which in my view is totally unfair and actually detrimental to my relationship with my children which has always been good. I’d just like to know if she can impose those restrictions on me or if I do I fact have a realistic want. Thank you

Our Response:
If you cannot agree between you, you would have to either resolve this through mediation and if mediation is not successful, then you can apply to court. As in all cases, the court’s main concern is the welfare of the children in question. The court will always put the children’s best interests first and this main issue will determine the outcome of any application for an order.
SeparatedDads - 31-Jul-18 @ 10:33 AM
Hello. I am currently in a relationship with an American girl, we have a son together and plan to marry. I also have a son and a daughter with my ex wife. I have parental responsibility of them both, We have them at least 3 nights a week and in the school holidays they are with us more often than not. My question is, I have been offered a job in America, my partners family are there and it is my belief that we will enjoy a much better standard of life there. Ideally I want to take all three of my children but I understand that that is just unrealistic as their mother would never consent to it. I have asked her (my ex) if she would allow me to have them over there for extended periods at a time, to which she has also refused. In a nutshell she has essentially said that if I move and want to see my children I have to come back and spend time with them in England before leaving again, which in my view is totally unfair and actually detrimental to my relationship with my children which has always been good. I’d just like to know if she can impose those restrictions on me or if I do I fact have a realistic want. Thank you
Jimmy - 30-Jul-18 @ 12:53 PM
Hi my wife and I been together for 10 years we have 4 children 8 years and under My wife is polish and we are not getting along and we are separated. My question is she is going back to Poland on holiday with my kids what’ happens if shedecideTo not come back to uk ? Will it be easy to bring them back as I have not agreed on this ? Am I better off notallowing travel ?
Love4mykids - 22-Jul-18 @ 8:32 PM
Lewis- Your Question:
Hi my partner and I are moving to Northern Ireland next month. She has a child from another relationship and is currently pregnant with my child which is due next month. We are moving to Northern Ireland as I have family there and support as she doesn’t here. I have a job lined up over there which I start as soon as I get over and we have accomadation. Can the dad (ex partner) stop this? At the end of the day he can still see the child when he wants he will just have to travel from England. We are putting the needs of the unborn baby and the child first as we have support over there and are doing it so we can can have a stable life.

Our Response:
The other parent can't atttempt to stop this and your partner would need to request the other parent's permission to move if her ex has parental responsibility. In addition, if he wishes to apply to court, he can apply 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. However, it doesn't mean the court will grant the order. 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.
SeparatedDads - 17-Jul-18 @ 2:00 PM
Hi my partner and I are moving to Northern Ireland next month. She has a child from another relationship and is currently pregnant with my child which is due next month. We are moving to Northern Ireland as I have family there and support as she doesn’t here. I have a job lined up over there which I start as soon as I get over and we have accomadation. Can the dad (ex partner) stop this? At the end of the day he can still see the child when he wants he will just have to travel from England. We are putting the needs of the unborn baby and the child first as we have support over there and are doing it so we can can have a stable life.
Lewis - 15-Jul-18 @ 6:18 PM
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