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: 19 Oct 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.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
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
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.
Quintin - 9-Oct-17 @ 5:33 PM
I am an Egyptian citizen with limited indefinite leave to remain in the uk. My ex is British as is my son. I have PR through marrying his mum, we are now divorced and I have remarried a relative in Egypt and had a child. There is a child contacts arrangement in place. My ex wants to relocate to Australia with my son and states that she has a job there. I do not give permission and my citizenship is in part due to my son. What can I do as my ex wants to relocate and i am worried about the expense of solicitors to prevent this. She is the resident parent, what can I do, whats rights do I have?
nearly - 5-Oct-17 @ 11:05 PM
So Confused- Your Question:
Hi. I met a girl and we dated for a few weeks the broke up. I found out the she is pregnant. I have not really been involved through out the process. But now I found out that she wants to move to another country and will have the baby their. Is their anyway to stop this. Does she need my permission to move? Any help would be great.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. No, unless/until your name is on the birth certificate, then you have no rights. You might wish to seek legal advice on whether you may be able to request a Prohibited Steps Order, prior to birth which would be a request from the courts to prevent her from leaving the country. However, 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. Plus, if your ex has family support etc abroad, then it is likely the court would give her permission to leave the country, especially if you are no longer in a relationship. If this was the case, then you would have to try for some kind of overseas access arrangment.
SeparatedDads - 5-Oct-17 @ 11:01 AM
Hi. I met a girl and we dated for a few weeks the broke up. I found out the she is pregnant. I have not really been involved through out the process. But now I found out that she wants to move to another country and will have the baby their. Is their anyway to stop this. Does she need my permission to move? Any help would be great.
So Confused - 4-Oct-17 @ 1:12 PM
scotty - Your Question:
Hi,my partner moved to the UK when she was pregnant. we separated and she moved back to spain before our daughter was born. im registered on the birth certificate.i was present at the birth and we have continued a distant relationship for the past 2 years. things are becoming difficult and my partner is not willing to travel with our daughter to visit me.she is happy for me to travel to spain only.what are my options we all have uk passports.

Our Response:
I'm afraid that unless you want to take the matter to international court (which will be costly) there is little you can do except try to come to some sort of amicable agreement. It's not an ideal situation and it is one that many families are experiencing due to people migrating across the globe. Even if you took the matter to court, the court would not order your ex to return to live in the UK. You may wish to seek legal advice in order to explore your options.
SeparatedDads - 2-Oct-17 @ 3:52 PM
hi, my partner moved to the UK when she was pregnant. we separated and she moved back to spain before our daughter was born. im registered on the birth certificate. i was present at the birth and we have continued a distant relationship for the past 2 years. things are becoming difficult and my partner is not willing to travel with our daughter to visit me. she is happy for me to travel to spain only. what are my options we all have uk passports.
scotty - 30-Sep-17 @ 10:29 PM
Please advise - Your Question:
Hi, My girlfriend is living in Sweden and has a child to her ex-husband, the child is 14 years old so I think is an exception to the 2003 law regarding parental consent. My girlfriend wants to move to England to be with me but suspects that the father would never agree to such a thing despite the fact she would be more than willing to let the daughter spend the holiday times with her father (if she wanted to). What rules/regulations are there against my girlfriend just jumping on a plane and coming over to live in England? Are there any? What recourse could the father take if she were to do so?

Our Response:
The Hague Convention of 25 October 1980 on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, is a multilateral treaty which seeks to protect children from abduction and retention across international boundaries by providing a procedure to bring about their prompt return. You can see more via the link here and here. You don't say whether the father was registered on the birth certificate or not, in which case this would not apply.
SeparatedDads - 28-Sep-17 @ 1:51 PM
Hi, My girlfriend is living in Sweden and has a child to her ex-husband, the child is 14 years old so I think is an exception to the 2003 law regarding parental consent. My girlfriend wants to move to England to be with me but suspects that the father would never agree to such a thing despite the fact she would be more than willing to let the daughter spend the holiday times with her father (if she wanted to). What rules/regulations are there against my girlfriend just jumping on a plane and coming over to live in England? Are there any? What recourse could the father take if she were to do so?
Please advise - 26-Sep-17 @ 3:26 PM
suesue12 - Your Question:
My son is 18 years old named father on birth certificate. His ex won't let him see his child at his own house no reason just being difficult it seems ex doesn't want the child to have a relationship with me the grandmother or my family it's very difficult but I'm keeping a level head we will see the child in parks etc just being difficult. What right has my son to see his child at his own home he wants the child to have a bond with me and our family would appreciate if you could help us and my sons rights he really wants a proper access to his daughter thsnks you

Our Response:
I'm afraid where parents disagree over a matter, the only recourse is for your son to suggest mediation to his ex in order to try to resolve the matter via a third party, please see link here . If his ex refuses, his only recourse would be to take the matter to court via a Specific Issue Order, please see link here . 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 - 22-Sep-17 @ 11:10 AM
My son is 18 years old named father on birth certificate. His ex won't let him see his child at his own house no reason just being difficult it seems ex doesn't want the child to have a relationship with me the grandmother or my family it's very difficultbut I'm keeping a level head we will see the child in parks etc just being difficult. What right has my son to see his child at his own home he wants the child to have a bond with me and our family would appreciate if you could help us and my sons rights he really wants a proper access to his daughter thsnks you
suesue12 - 21-Sep-17 @ 3:09 PM
Carebear - Your Question:
I raised my 15 year old son In spain, his father left and remarried in the uk, 9 years ago.This year my son decided to live with his father in the uk which I allowed without a court or lawyer being involved.My son now wants to return. What are our rights. Can he simply get in a plane and come home?

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether your son's father agrees to allow him to return. You would need his consent to give permission for your child to leave the country. If he doesn't give his consent, then you would have to take the matter to court in order for the court to decide what it thinks is in yoru son's best interests. However, as your son is now 15, the court will take his opinion on board. Hopefully, your ex will make the same allowances you did when allowing your son to leave Spain for the UK.
SeparatedDads - 11-Sep-17 @ 4:34 PM
I raised my 15 year old son In spain, his father left and remarried in the uk, 9 years ago. This year my son decided to live with his father in the uk which I allowed without a court or lawyer being involved. My son now wants to return. What are our rights. Can he simply get in a plane and come home?
Carebear - 10-Sep-17 @ 11:00 PM
BOB - Your Question:
Hi, I am a South African married to a Polish citizen. We have 2 children. My Daughter was born in Poland she is 2 and a half. My Son was born in the UK 2 months ago.I am on a EEA spouse visa. Our marriage is going from bad to worse.I am afraid my wife will try to leave with my kids to go live back in Poland. What are my rights? Can we separate? will I have to leave the country. I am the only bread winner and have a good job. My children are my life and I could not imagine a day without them in my life.I would even be willing to carry on paying for our current home and moving out.

Our Response:
I am sorry to hear this. If you are on a dependent visa and you decide to separate, you would have to let the Home Office know, please see link here. However, as you have PR your wife has to request your consent to leave the country here. If you split up and you have to return to your home country, then this will have to be resolved between you both. You may wish to seek independent immigration advice to see what your options are regarding applying to extend your visa, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 8-Sep-17 @ 10:07 AM
Hi,I am a South African married to a Polish citizen. We have 2 children. My Daughter was born in Poland she is 2 and a half. My Son was born in the UK 2 months ago. I am on a EEA spouse visa. Our marriage is going from bad to worse.I am afraid my wife will try to leave with my kids to go live back in Poland. What are my rights? Can we separate? will I have to leave the country. I am the only bread winner and have a good job. My children are my life and I could not imagine a day without them in my life. I would even be willing to carry on paying for our current home and moving out.
BOB - 7-Sep-17 @ 3:19 PM
Becky - Your Question:
Hi I currently live in the UK with my son of 11 who is from a previous relationship. My son does see his father every other weekend at the moment. However, I am now in a new relationship and have another son who is 7months old and we are looking into moving to Australia. I know that my 11year olds father will say no to this move. I would be willing to FaceTime regularly and during school holidays I would be prepared to contribute towards flights for him to see his son. Would the courts grant me permission? Moving abroad with give us a better work life balance and financially we would be better off.

Our Response:
I'm afraid it is impossible to anticipate what a court may decide. 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. However, if your ex refuses the request, then you would have to apply directly to court.
SeparatedDads - 4-Sep-17 @ 11:36 AM
Hi I currently live in the UK with my son of 11 who is from a previous relationship. My son does see his father every other weekend at the moment. However, I am now in a new relationship and have another son who is 7months old and we are looking into moving to Australia. I know that my 11year olds father will say no to this move. I would be willing to FaceTime regularly and during school holidays I would be prepared to contribute towards flights for him to see his son. Would the courts grant me permission? Moving abroad with give us a better work life balance and financially we would be better off.
Becky - 3-Sep-17 @ 12:08 PM
Zoe - Your Question:
Hi I live in Ireland but from England I've split from boyfriend and we have a 2 year old daughter. I want to bring my daughter over to my family in England for a small 2 week holiday to get a brake but my ex won't let me Wat can I do

Our Response:
Please see Specific Issue Order link here which tells you how you can apply to court to request permission to take your child out of your country of residence.
SeparatedDads - 22-Aug-17 @ 10:04 AM
Hi I live in Ireland but from England I've split from boyfriend and we have a 2 year old daughter .. I want to bring my daughter over to my family in England for a small 2 week holiday to get a brake but my ex won't let me Wat can I do
Zoe - 21-Aug-17 @ 10:47 AM
After divorce, the court granted me the parental responsibility, and it was taken away from my ex partner. Can I in this case immigrate to Germany with my 10 years old daughter? Or do I still need my ex partner's permission? If yes, is there a way go abroad without the permission of my ex partner? We were married and both our names are on the birth certificate.
Eid - 12-Aug-17 @ 3:39 PM
As - Your Question:
I m living in u.k with my 11 year old daughter I ve her custudy and she does not see her dad as court decided can I move to canada with her

Our Response:
If the father has Parental Responsibility of your child, you would still need to ask for his consent. If he refuses, you would have to apply to court, please see link here , which will explain all you need to know.
SeparatedDads - 3-Aug-17 @ 12:29 PM
I m living in u.k with my 11 year old daughter i ve her custudy and she does not see her dad as court decided can i move to canada with her
As - 2-Aug-17 @ 12:34 AM
Lucky Phil - Your Question:
Hi, my ex is Spanish and when she found out she was pregnant with my child, she moved back with her parents to Spain. My son was born 2 months ago, but she refused to name me as the father stating that she would be entitled to more benefits in Spain if she didn’t. I returned from Spain a few days ago and met my son for the first time. I would like to begin the fight for my rights as a father. Where is the best place to go for advice for a British citizen? I rang the Citizen’s Advice Bureau months ago but they weren’t able to help me. What is the name of the court where I should begin action? Thanks In Advance!

Our Response:
Firstly, the fact your ex has allowed you have some sort of access to your child is a start. As with any family law matter, court is always seen as a last resort and mediation as the first and less costly option, please see link here . Even in international cases it is possible to come to an overall agreement through mediation. However, if you cannot agree through mediation, then you can start court proceedings from the UK. Please keep in mind that litigation in international cases can be expensive due to the fact there may have to be legal proceedings in more than one country. Therefore, is is worth paying for some legal advice regarding this to find out what it might cost and the procedure you will have to go through. If you are looking for some free initial advice, please see link here.
SeparatedDads - 20-Jul-17 @ 10:19 AM
Hi, my ex is Spanish and when she found out she was pregnant with my child, she moved back with her parents to Spain. My son was born 2 months ago, but she refused to name me as the father stating that she would be entitled to more benefits in Spain if she didn’t. I returned from Spain a few days ago and met my son for the first time. I would like to begin the fight for my rights as a father. Where is the best place to go for advice for a British citizen? I rang the Citizen’s Advice Bureau months ago but they weren’t able to help me. What is the name of the court where I should begin action? Thanks In Advance!
Lucky Phil - 18-Jul-17 @ 4:24 PM
Zel2002 - Your Question:
All my life Iv been bought up in Spain Iv had the luxury and have had a very fortunate up bring. my 1st daughter now 15 has had a very fortunate up bringing also in Spain. her father is Spanish. my mother and father moved to Spain 7 years ago. it at this time I had just got into a relationship in uk , my father said he would buy me a house for us both there in Spain with them. I refused to make relationship In uk work.my father passed suddenlyOn his way home to Spain leaving my family shatterd and my mother in Spain I a big house by herself, this was 2 years ago. now since then I had a baby girl now 3 with my now ex. we have 2 year ago split up, we had a violent situation whilst I was grieving and had postnatal depression. I had to be put with my 2 girls in a room whilst a house was found for me. now in the house for a year I have been told I have to move within a month as landlord is selling. I speak with my mother everyday, and after taking my girls over there I feel it's my time to maybe move to be with her. Iv nothing here, well a pt job.my ex sees her 1day a week because he works to much I struggle by my self. I no that my life now would Benifit myself and also my girls.15 year old starts college next sept and 3 year starts school also next sept. colleges are amazing., I no my ex won't let me leave without a fight. what's yr advice?

Our Response:
If your ex will not give his permission for you to move, then you would have to apply to the courts. The court will always make a decision on what it thinks is in the best interests of your children. However, your older enough being age-16 would be allowed to voice her opinion regarding where she would prefer to reside.
SeparatedDads - 17-Jul-17 @ 3:15 PM
All my life Iv been bought up in Spain Iv had the luxury and have had a very fortunate up bring.. my 1st daughter now 15 has had a very fortunate up bringing also in Spain.. her father is Spanish ... my mother and father moved to Spain 7 years ago..it at this time I had just got into a relationship in uk , my father said he would buy me a house for us both there in Spain with them. I refused to make relationship In uk work..my father passed suddenly On his way home to Spain leaving my family shatterd and my mother in Spain I a big house by herself, this was 2 years ago.. now since then I had a baby girl now 3 with my now ex.. we have 2 year ago split up, we had a violent situation whilst I was grieving and had postnatal depression .. I had to be put with my 2 girls in a room whilst a house was found for me.. now in the house for a year I have been told I have to move within a month as landlord is selling.. I speak with my mother everyday, and after taking my girls over there I feel it's my time to maybe move to be with her.. Iv nothing here, well a pt job..my ex sees her 1day a week because he works to much I struggle by my self... I no that my life now would Benifit myself and also my girls..15 year old starts college next sept and 3 year starts school also next sept.. colleges are amazing.., I no my ex won't let me leave without a fight... what's yr advice?
Zel2002 - 16-Jul-17 @ 3:31 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the SeparatedDads website. Please read our Disclaimer.