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

By: Guest Article - Updated: 18 Jun 2018 | 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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Hi I have a 3 years old daughter with a polish girl my daughter has my surname and a British passport. We are still together but she always says if I leave she will take the little one to Poland... what are my rightswe are living in the UK.. thanks Mike
Mike - 18-Jun-18 @ 6:01 PM
This is helpful but my situation is slightly different. I am soon to be divorced with a young child. I am Engish and he is American. As a family, and before we were married and had our child, we have always lived in the UK. He may be moving to the US for work and wants to possibly take our daughter. I do not want this as it is not her home, her school is here, my side of the family and she has on-going medical concerns (not serious but enough that she has been an outpatient most of her life). Is there a resource I can look at for what my rights are in this situation? Thanks in advance.
AngelaP - 18-Jun-18 @ 3:13 PM
Curious - Your Question:
My friend has got a Danish woman pregnant and they have now split up. What are his rights if she moves to Denmark before the baby is born please?

Our Response:
Unfortunately, the father has no rights to stop the mother moving home before the child is born. Once the child is born much depends upon whether the mother decides to register your friend as the father on the birth certificate. If she doesn't register him, then he has no rights until he takes the matter to court. Even if he takes the matter to court and is awarded Parental Responsibility, the mother can still apply to move home. 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 - 14-Jun-18 @ 10:58 AM
My friend has got a Danish woman pregnant and they have now split up. What are his rights if she moves to Denmark before the baby is born please?
Curious - 13-Jun-18 @ 7:46 AM
Hi me and my ex girlfriend have a child she got pregnant in UK she love to Iceland as she used to love there nd she give birth to the child and Iceland the boy is now three he doesn't even know me she applied for child support and the Iceland government send me latter giving me 30 days to pay the unpaid child support I havnt agree with her that the child should live with her or to settle in Iceland she only let me see him when I go there what shall I do plz any Advise I live on London
Abdul Sadiq - 9-Jun-18 @ 8:23 PM
Ann - Your Question:
Hello, I am an Spanish woman who lived and worked in uk 25 years (resident), meet my husband who is from Algeria and we had a child who is 5 years old, I am now divorced and I would like to return to Spain to live with my daughter as I will have family support, my ex husband does not help us at all. He refuse to agree for me to take her to Spain to live even though she loves it there, my daughter lives with me (residence order) can he control where do we want to live?Thank you

Our Response:
As specified in the article, you would have to apply to get consent from the court.
SeparatedDads - 8-Jun-18 @ 11:54 AM
@Ann.I am a x father I would let my child move anywhere with the mother and her partner gods truth .I even signed for the child to leave the country on holiday but gods truth wouldn't care if they lived overseas .never been one dwell on what's gone .or don't see how I have to help them its called a x for a reason.
c.laurie - 8-Jun-18 @ 12:44 AM
Hello, I am an Spanish woman who lived and worked in uk 25 years (resident), meet my husband who is from Algeria and we had a child who is 5 years old, I am now divorced and i would like to return to Spain to live with my daughter as I will have family support, my ex husband does not help us at all. He refuse to agree for me to take her to Spain to live even though she loves it there, my daughter lives with me (residence order) can he control where do we want to live? Thank you
Ann - 7-Jun-18 @ 11:20 PM
Marpkins - Your Question:
Hi there, after a severe stroke my ex German partner alleged stress and told me she needed time with her family, she flew to Germany and took our children with her, once there she advised she would not return and that my only option to be with them was to move to Germany to what I declined. I contacted a law firm who encouraged me to do a lot of things to then three different judges told me they have no jurisdiction over in Germany and my lawyer told me that the bird has flown out of the cage, I am desperate, I contacted CAFCASS, ICACU and they have all ignored me, they are growing up in Germany, language I don't speak. She is refusing any contact, I started making videos for them to hear voice and know who I am until I learned she was filtering them, my daughter doesn't know who I am at all, my 3 year old boy does remember me, we had a very close relationship. Can you help?

Our Response:
I am very sorry to hear this. It must be a very difficult time for you. Unfortunately, there is little you can do to have your children returned to the UK. If your ex has settled in Germany with your children, then no court would remove the children from the primary carer. Your only recourse would be to take the matter to court for regular access. However, as this would be through an international court it would be expensive. The EU freedom of movement has made this an increasingly frequent occurence when one parent decides to move back home with the children either through consent, court or via situations similar to your own. Only the courts can resolve such a situation and you would need to seek further legal advice to apply for access if your ex is not allowing it.
SeparatedDads - 4-Jun-18 @ 11:32 AM
Hi there,after a severe stroke my ex German partner alleged stress and told me she needed time with her family,she flew to Germany and took our children with her, once there she advised she would not return and that my only option to be with them was to move to Germany to what I declined.I contacted a law firm who encouraged me to do a lot of things to then three different judges told me they have no jurisdiction over in Germany and my lawyer told me that the bird has flown out of the cage, I am desperate,I contacted CAFCASS, ICACU and they have all ignored me, they are growing up in Germany,language I don't speak.She is refusing any contact,I started making videos for them to hear voice and know who I am until I learned she was filtering them, my daughter doesn't know who I am at all,my 3 year old boy does remember me,we had a very close relationship. Can you help?
Marpkins - 3-Jun-18 @ 3:13 PM
Hi i gave my ex parent consent to bring my children to Lithuania from Ireland for four months while i was pregnant , the date is up now and he is refusing to take my children home, wil i get my children home to Ireland, what are the rights of a father in Lithuania, his name is on the birth certificates
pinelepy - 28-May-18 @ 12:47 AM
Hi I have permission for 3/of my children to move to Spain from UK with me, and the father's have said they will write me a letter stating so, is this OK as evidence do I still need to apply to a court? Also my eldest daughter was born 07 sep 2003 I don't have any contact with her father at all , do I need permission off him? As her date of birth is before the cut off date and we was not married and never have been. If I need permission how would I get that if I don't have contact. Many thanks
Mumoffour - 6-May-18 @ 8:19 AM
Dear Ms Fiona Wood, Thank you for your article. My ex-partner moved to Northern Ireland with my two boys. Court let her move, and Judge said hectically she has right to move within UK. I want to apply to Child Arrangement Order. 1) Should I apply to Family Court in London, which let her move to Northern Ireland or should I apply at Northern Ireland? 2) I know that in Northern Ireland is different regulations, any information regarding that will be appreciated. Many thanks in advance.
DAD - 16-Apr-18 @ 6:30 PM
Elzz- Your Question:
Hi ! I live in Germany and I have a kid of 14 yrs live in Mauritius with his dad but my ex Assault my child so much that he doesn’t want to live with him anymore actually my son is in holiday here in Germany with me and he doesn’t want to go back to Mauritius his dad is such a bad person and he’s having sex in front of my child and watching porn movies in front of my son I need help I don’t know what to do if someone can help me please reply me on I cannot bear this anymore in school he’s very bad I want to help my son before is to late he told me if he have to go back he will make sucide I’m not feeling good at all I’m afraid for him please help me.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, as we are a UK-based site we cannot answer your question. You would need to seek professional legal advice regarding this matter.
SeparatedDads - 6-Apr-18 @ 10:55 AM
Hi ! I live in Germany and I have a kid of 14 yrs live in Mauritius with his dad but my ex Assault my child so much that he doesn’t want to live with him anymore actually my son is in holiday here in Germany with me and he doesn’t want to go back to Mauritius his dad is such a bad person and he’s having sex in front of my child and watching porn movies in front of my son I need help I don’t know what to do if someone can help me please reply me on I cannot bear this anymore in school he’s very bad I want to help my son before is to late he told me if he have to go back he will make sucide I’m not feeling good at all I’m afraid for him please help me ..
Elzz - 5-Apr-18 @ 2:37 PM
Unknown - Your Question:
I currently live in Australia (Not Permenant - On Temporary Partner Visa) however me and my husband have ended our relationship. We have a 4 year old daughter who is dual citizen for both countries Australia and England (Born in England - where she was raised by me for 2yrs, husband was in Australia). I want to go back home and most likely will have to anyway due to the break up of our relationship. However my husband is refusing to let me go back home with our daughter or he says I can go back but she’s not leaving the country. I don’t know what to do, I think he is doing it to spite me because he takes no responsibility of his daughter. (He does work which provides financially) but other then that he doesn’t take care of her or help out. I’m left doing it 24/7. When I tell him I want to go home all I get are threats. I know he will lie and manipulate to get what he wants.i already feel defeated by him. All I want is to go back home, I have nothing and no one in Australia.

Our Response:
Your only recourse would be to apply to court. Unfortunately, there is no other option you can take if your husband refuses permission.
SeparatedDads - 5-Apr-18 @ 12:17 PM
I currently live in Australia (Not Permenant - On Temporary Partner Visa) however me and my husband have ended our relationship. We have a 4 year old daughter who is dual citizen for both countries Australia and England (Born in England - where she was raised by me for 2yrs, husband was in Australia). I want to go back home and most likely will have to anyway due to the break up of our relationship. However my husband is refusing to let me go back home with our daughter or he says I can go back but she’s not leaving the country. I don’t know what to do, I think he is doing it to spite me because he takes no responsibility of his daughter. (He does work which provides financially) but other then that he doesn’t take care of her or help out. I’m left doing it 24/7. When I tell him I want to go home all I get are threats. I know he will lie and manipulate to get what he wants.i already feel defeated by him. All I want is to go back home, I have nothing and no one in Australia.
Unknown - 3-Apr-18 @ 7:12 AM
Hi, I’m the mother. My husband and I had our son in the USA, then when he was 2 we moved to Ireland (husbands home country) for 6 months, then my husband broke up with me. As I have no friends or family or job in Ireland I have just moved home to the UK (where I’m from) and brought my son. My husband was ignoring contact prior to us leaving and we had been living in a hotel for 2 weeks. What do I need to do to make sure everything is ok to keep my son here? How much access is reasonable to offer to dad? How much maintainence should I be asking for?
Charlotte - 6-Mar-18 @ 8:10 PM
be - Your Question:
I have a marital dispute with my husband. My husband is verbally and financially abusive to me and my son, I want to leave US and go to my country for a year to finish college since I cant afford here in the US. What should I do? Iam planning to divorce my husband, and he made himself clear that he will stop me in the airport from taking my son. I want to do the legal way, and I also need to stay away from him.

Our Response:
If you are living in the US, we cannot advise you as US family-law is different to UK family law (this is a UK site). However, you would have to get authorisation via the court to take your child abroad if you husband will not authorise this. Otherwise you could be charged with abduction through the Hague Convention which seeks to protect children from abduction across international boundaries (even if it is a parent/child relationship). The court will decide upon what it thinks is in your child's best interests. Therefore, you may wish to seek legal advice in order to explore your options.
SeparatedDads - 1-Mar-18 @ 3:38 PM
I have a marital dispute with my husband. My husband is verbally and financially abusive to me and my son, I want to leave US and go to my country for a year to finish college since i cant afford here in the US. What should I do? Iam planning to divorce my husband, and he made himself clear that he will stop me in the airport from taking my son. I want to do the legal way, and I also need to stay away from him.
be - 1-Mar-18 @ 6:21 AM
Jo - Your Question:
Me and my partner are Czech. I have been living in England for 8 years supporting my partner and child in Czech Republic until they both moved to live with me in this country 2 years ago. Now she wants to separate and move to live in Hungary and take our child with her. Of course I want our child to stay with me and she has been very happily at school in England for the last two years. She also wants to stay with me. Often my partner has behaved very unreasonably throughout our relationship and I have always worked very hard supporting my partner and child. My daughter is 7 years old and was born in Czech Republc. Can she just take my child to another country or can she stay in England and live with me?Thank You

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. As specified in the article, if you do not agree to your child moving abroad, your partner will need to apply to court and ask the court to make an order agreeing to her request. If your partner is the day-to-day carer of your child, then your partner will have a better chance of being allowed to take your child abroad, if she can prove that it is in your child's best interests to remain with her, given she is the main carer. However, if you can justify why you think it is in your child's best interests to remain in the country i.e with close family and an established network of school and friends etc then you too may have a chance. However, court is really only seen as a last resort as it can be stressful, emotional and damage the relationship between you and your partner. If you can, trying to decide between you is the best way forward and mediation may be better for you both, if you can't agree between yourselves, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 26-Feb-18 @ 10:10 AM
Me and my partner are Czech. I have been living in England for 8 years supporting my partner and child in Czech Republic until they both moved to live with me in this country 2 years ago. Now she wants to separate andmove to live in Hungary and take our child with her. Of course i want our child to stay with me and she has been very happily at school in England for the last two years. She also wants to stay with me. Often my partner has behaved very unreasonably throughout our relationship and i have always worked very hard supporting my partner and child. My daughter is 7 years old and was born in Czech Republc. Can she just take my child to another country or can she stay in England and live with me? Thank You
Jo - 25-Feb-18 @ 8:04 AM
@Sad dad - This can happen a lot in intercontinental relationships. The situation may change at some point in the future and may not turn out as bad as you think. If you continue to tell your son you love him and will always be there for him and keep reinforcing your love, things may turn around, if not now, when your child reaches an age where he can make decisions for himself. It happened to a friend of mine - he had to wait until his child was 18 and then his son made the decision to come and live with him. They are now getting to know each other properly which is great and the mum can't interfere as her power is lost. Continue to be a good dad and the rewards may come your way later on. I hate that some women just go all out to keep their kids away from the dads. But it can pay off. It might be a case of just biding your time.
Col63 - 19-Feb-18 @ 3:51 PM
Thank you for your response. The unfortunate situation is I will be told nothing until the last minute and I fear at that stage I may be too late to have any say on the situation. I love my son dearly but feel I am gradually being pushed out of his life, us Dad's definitely have it tough at times.
Sad dad - 16-Feb-18 @ 6:55 PM
Sad dad - Your Question:
Hi my son is now 12 yrs old and lives in Germany with his mother. I met his mother when I was in the army and based in Germany. Our son was born in Germany and therefore has a German birth certificate, an Army birth certificate and a UK birth certificate. I am named as the father on both the UK and army birth certificates. I am a UK citizen and so is my ex-partner. My partner and I split when my son was 18 months old. When I finished the army a number of years later I had no option but to return to the UK. My ex-partner who worked for the army as a teacher remained out in Germany with our son. I try approximately 4-5 times a year to visit my son either out in Germany or bring him back to the UK. My ex-partner is now remarried and over the last number of years I have noticed a steady turn in my son's attitude towards me. There has never been a good relationship between myself and my ex and she has never encouraged a relationship between myself and my son but as I have continued to pay her £250 per month by my own agreement and also pay for all travel costs in relation to seeing my son, she has not as yet prevented me from seeing him. However, I am now becoming increasingly worried about my son's new attitude towards me and as the army are pulling out of Germany next year I am wondering what rights I will have in relation to where my ex chooses to live when the army leaves. My ex would now have an opportunity to either retire with a healthy financial package and therefore could chose to live anywhere or she may choose to stay on working within the SCE Schools and look to move to the likes of Cyprus if the opportunity arises. Cyprus is extremely difficult and expensive for me to get to as I live in Northern Ireland and also my fear is that if she chooses to take her retirement the world is basically her oyster. I would be grateful for any advise you can give regards my situations d what rights I may have. I wonder because everything is linked to the army is she still governed by British law and therefore I should be consulted in relation to where she may chose to live as I have legal responsibility for my son.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. However, all movement/relocation of your son would have to either be agreed by you or challenged by you. The only legal challenge you could make is via the courts, which would be costly given the international perspective. 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 can only suggest you seek legal advice when your ex makes her decision. Unfortunately, your questions are hypothetical at the moment and until your ex decides what her movements are, until then there is little you can do.
SeparatedDads - 16-Feb-18 @ 11:09 AM
Hi my son is now 12 yrs old and lives in Germany with his mother. I met his mother when I was in the army and based in Germany.Our son was born in Germany and therefore has a German birth certificate, an Army birth certificate and a UK birth certificate.I am named as the father on both the UK and army birth certificates.I am a UK citizen and so is my ex-partner.My partner and I split when my son was 18 months old.When I finished the army a number of years later I had no option but to return to the UK.My ex-partner who worked for the army as a teacher remained out in Germany with our son. I try approximately 4-5 times a year to visit my son either out in Germany or bring him back to the UK. My ex-partner is now remarried and over the last number of years I have noticed a steady turn in my son's attitude towards me.There has never been a good relationship between myself and my ex and she has never encouraged a relationship between myself and my son but as I have continued to pay her £250 per month by my own agreement and also pay for all travel costs in relation to seeing my son, she has not as yet prevented me from seeing him. However, I am now becoming increasingly worried about my son's new attitude towards me and as the army are pulling out of Germany next year I am wondering what rights I will have in relation to where my ex chooses to live when the army leaves.My ex would now have an opportunity to either retire with a healthy financial package and therefore could chose to live anywhere or she may choose to stay on working within the SCE Schools and look to move to the likes of Cyprus if the opportunity arises. Cyprus is extremely difficult and expensive for me to get to as I live in Northern Ireland and also my fear is that if she chooses to take her retirement the world is basically her oyster. I would be grateful for any advise you can give regards my situations d what rights I may have.I wonder because everything is linked to the army is she still governed by British law and therefore I should be consulted in relation to where she may chose to live as I have legal responsibility for my son.
Sad dad - 15-Feb-18 @ 5:09 PM
Percival - Your Question:
Hi, I would like some help please, my ex and I had a daughter in the UK, both parents British, both on the birth certificate, we moved to Spain and then split up. I have since come back to the UK as my business is here and since leaving Spain she has moved to France to be closer to her family. She is being unwilling in taking her to the airport for me to collect and is demanding that I collect her from the house and not helping towards any of the transport costs. What are my rights to seeing her? Thank you

Our Response:
Your only right in instances such as this, is to agree between you, or apply through the courts.
SeparatedDads - 23-Jan-18 @ 10:49 AM
Hi, I would like some help please, my ex and I had a daughter in the UK, both parents British, both on the birth certificate, we moved to Spain and then split up. I have since come back to the UK as my business is here and since leaving Spain she has moved to France to be closer to her family. She is being unwilling in taking her to the airport for me to collect and is demanding that I collect her from the house and not helping towards any of the transport costs. What are my rights to seeing her? Thank you
Percival - 22-Jan-18 @ 5:55 PM
please HELP. finally after an abusive marriage in Greece I am able to return with my child to the UK. However I had to sign a 50 /50 joint custody to be able to leave . My question is will I be protected onc im back on British soil , or I will always have to be at his beck and call a liftime .... can I apply for full custody once im saftly in the UK ..please help
k - 12-Jan-18 @ 11:22 PM
Neil - Your Question:
Hi there, I had my daughter who will be 4 next month with my partner in the uk. My partner is Dutch but had lived in the uk for 14 years. We had been together for 6 in the uk. 18 months after our daughter was born, my partner decided that we should go to Holland for the support of her parents. I lived there for 8 months but it didn’t work for me. We have tried to maintain a relation ship for the last 18 months but I fear it may not end well.What are my rights to see my daughter I have tried to maintain every 4 weeks so I drive over. Going forward is it my right to bring her back to the uk for visits? 1-2 weeks at a time when suits with her school holidays?It’s nice to see her when I go over but I really want to be able to bring her back to the uk to visit my familyWhat are my options?RegardsChris

Our Response:
The best way to come to an arrangement is through mutual negotiation and agreement. Any other option, such as court will cost, especially internationally. Mediation is also an option to consider, if there is a Dutch equivalent.
SeparatedDads - 12-Jan-18 @ 2:58 PM
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