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When Your Ex Emigrates With Your Children

By: Guest Article - Updated: 25 Sep 2020 | comments*Discuss
 
Children Abroad Wrongfully Removed

The modern world is getting smaller, with more and more people living and working abroad. It's no surprise that the number of international families is on the increase but what happens to the kids when these relationships break down and the mother wishes to return to their home country with the child? What rights does the father have?

Your Rights

If both parents have parental responsibility for a child it is a criminal offence in the UK to emigrate with a child without the permission of the other parent or without an order of the Court. Parents have Parental Responsibility for children in the following circumstances:

  1. The Mother - always has PR
  2. The Father - if he was married to the Mother, or if he was named on the birth certificate and the child was born after 1st December 2003 or if there is a PR agreement stamped by the Court

Outcomes

There are 4 outcomes if one parent wants to take the child abroad to live permanently:-
  1. Permission refused by the Court and the Mother abandons her plans or the child moves to live with the Father
  2. The Mother and child emigrate with the Father'sagreement
  3. Lawful removal of the child by the Mother
  4. Unlawful removal of the child by the Mother

Outcome 1 is self-explanatory but let's looks at the other 3 outcomes in more detail:

Outcome 2 - Emigrate with Father's Agreement

Where the parents reach an agreement which permits one parent to move abroad with the child whist ensuring that they maintain a good relationship with the other parent. International travel is much cheaper and often parents agree a schedule of annual contact involving return trips to the UK in the school holidays and weekends and visits by the non-resident parent to the child's new home. Other forms of contact can be agreed upon such as Skype, telephone, email and Face time.

In these circumstances it is always wise to apply to the Court to request an order in the agreed terms to prevent any problems further down the line. A court order may also be required by the immigration authorities if the proposed move is by a non-national who requires a Visa. Depending upon the Country where the child is going to be residing, it may be necessary to obtain a mirror order in the new state reflecting the terms of the English Court order. You cannot assume that Court Orders made here are enforceable abroad. If the move is to an EU country the order would be directly enforceable but unless the English court order expressly retains jurisdiction, it will pass to the new state after 3 months and in theory an application could be made in the new state to vary the agreed terms. If the new home is a signatory to the Hague Convention, the Central Authority in London can assist in enforcing a contact order abroad. If the new home is outside the EU and is not a signatory to the Hague Convention, for example Arab States and the Far East, retaining jurisdiction here or obtaining a mirror order is the best form of protection.

Outcome 3 - Lawful Removal of Child

Where parents cannot agree it is necessary for the parent wishing to remove the child to apply to the Court for permission to do so. If permission is granted, contact will also be ordered. This will then result in the lawful removal of the child. Depending on the child's destination and whether that country would enforce the English Court order (as in EU Countries) it may be necessary to obtain a mirror order in the new home country to ensure contact is maintained. See above " 2 .Agreement"

Outcome 4 - Unlawful Removal of Child

Where parents cannot agree and the parent wishing to leave simply takes the child without permission, this is parental child abduction. It is a criminal offence to remove a child from the UK without the permission of the other parent or order of the court (save for where the parent has a residence order and removal is for less than 28 days). If you suspect that your child has been taken abroad you will need to access specialist legal advice immediately. In some cases it is possible to stop a child leaving the country by notifying the ports and airports who will place the child's details on a watch list. If the child has already left the UK, a lot will depend upon where they have gone and whether that country has an agreement with the UK to return wrongfully removed children. There are unfortunately circumstances where children are not returned which could result in the child losing its relationship with the other parent.

If you are separated from your child's mother and these issues arise for you it is important that you obtain specialist advice from a family lawyer with an international background which will enable you to consider the best way forward for you and for your child to ensure your relationship is maintained.

About the Author

This was a guest post written by Louise Halford, a family law Partner at Pannone LLP who specialises in child abduction.

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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My residency is in the USA ,ex wife Ilona Lungu lives in Kettering UK for the last ten years,our divorce was done in Romania in 2009 and she left the country with My child David Bitea whit out my consent in UK .For 10 years I did not know anything about my son .She finally decided to rich out to me thru Facebook and connected Me with my son.We both agreed to come to UK and visit and she promised me that I will have him during the visit but she lied,the child was in her presence all the time except one time when we went in the pool . I left and from that day we did not see each other only through social media. I would like to know how can I find a way to legalize my rights that I was given in the romanian court .My rights :to have my son every weekend and 3 weeks in the summer.Because we live in different countries I don’t want to put him through that but to find a fair way for both of us.
Florin - 25-Sep-20 @ 10:08 PM
I lost my Hague case as a US citizen petitioning my wife of UK citizenship for rights to my daughter who is a 3 year old dual citizen now. I have a family court order for scheduled time with her in the U.S. but she refuses to even consider bringing her until this pandemic is over. Are there extended permits or visas that allow me to join her in the United Kingdom so that I can play an active role in her childhood? Are the current travel restrictions a valid reason for breaching court orders?
Aaron - 17-Aug-20 @ 11:21 AM
@maggie.well I have a 16 year old daughter all grown up now.and with the awkwardness off everything yeah I most likely will never see you again.and with having no contact for over 11 years now and the research I have done I wouldn’t have a case even if I went to court in reality.yeah it sucks but there really are millions off guys like me in the same situation.so yeah I look at positives I never paid child support or had the burden off a child not much else I can do in reality now the child grown up now bit late for any action now .so all best two them.
C.laurie - 10-Jan-20 @ 2:45 AM
Hi.. i have a four old son and my ex husband come and lie to me and my son away from me he said that he would only stay for the christmas holiday but then after christmas i called him but he dont want to give my son back.. i want him back so that he could go to school but his father dont want to give him back till 2day... please i need help i want my baby back what should i do?
maggie - 10-Jan-20 @ 1:28 AM
Hi, really could do with to guidance from anyone with experience with mother taking child back home to the Philippines without fathers consent!? So the Philippines and U.K. have an agreement in place about child parent abduction? Any experience or guidance is much appreciated
Bits - 7-Jan-20 @ 7:50 PM
My wife disappear with my children back to the UK after our relocation to Nigeria, what can I do?
AB - 25-Nov-19 @ 7:50 AM
I would like to speak to the person who left the comment. What has happened to me is unbelievable currept ion on a terribly scale people deniing stuff I was told like my wife took kid's to school as normal for some reason took my phone I didn't then see her until 3pm as I was leaving to get kid's saw legg less drunk on valuim ambo 1st one called at 1.20pm that day who called child safety UK then when I saw her o was fumim I emptied her bag luckily found my phone and cause of a incident 6weeks prier I started filming her nose was split open could nt walk 2 steps with out falling over flat on her face child safety told me if I let my wife of 14 years back in they would take my children,she was arrested for breach of the peace with bail conditions not to return to the family home cause of the 3children we have together one 10,7,5, years old, so in shock considering I seen my mrs wasted but not like that,oh them half past midnight there was a big bang ing Infront door I went down answered it was my wife cops had dropped her off at the family home well as much as I loved my wife of 14 years I remembered what child safety said if I let her in I lose the kid's so I rang 999 and said they better get back before something bad happen s the cops came and took her she's since claimed domestic violence I got looked up I remembered o filmed everything to cut it short er I have tried to do a counter statement but despite 23callls and going in person no-one has ever seen the footage or no one ever acknowledge d the fact that a ambulance was called to her at 1.20pm a hour and a half before I even saw her which I would have thought would have documented any injuries she had on her face hours before she even saw me,ov you are gathering I did not hit my wife or kids I will tell you about thet another time Ithis my wife getting wasted went on for 3 days on the 3rd day it was Friday she came back I was too scared to let her in I didn't want to lose them we've had social in our lives before its horrible experience, I was struggling to come to terms with what was going on as we were always happy beautiful kid's .but I have been arrested, not seen my own children for 4weeks she's removed them out of the school even if the charges for domestic violence have kinda been dropped they have believed her all the way they reakon ed the other day they gave us the same support and help which is complete ly not true me and my wife but dabbled in drugs but she has played all on lies the victim card Very very well I nearly commited suicide other week I email and text and ring many times a day my wife has now took mother' and step father out of the whole situation we don't know what has been said it's like being batman and robin for 14 years now she's turned everything on me she's never had interest in taking the kid's to cricket in summer then all of them joined rugby club which they were loving,we met in Australia and married there thing's went bad for us there we
Geezer - 10-Nov-19 @ 1:44 AM
I've got a restriction order from the UK magistrates court stating I cannot change my children's residency. I am Portuguese, my 2 children are Portuguese and so their dad. Since 2018 I do want to return to my home country, it was denied by court due to my circumstances at that time(2018). I'm currently in holiday with my kids in Portugal and not intending to come back to UK, as I've got house, job and vacancy for my oldest son at school. Do you know if the UK law can accuse a Portuguese mum whom as return to their home country of kidnapping? Regards
Littleflower - 21-Aug-19 @ 9:46 AM
I need some help as have court in two weeks... My ex partner (kids mum) attempted to leave the country to live in Spain last month without informing me . . I was informed thankfully by her father and as the kids were in my Care I didn't let on in knew and didn't return them at the arranged time and kept them safe with me.. She left for Spain that day and I went to court and got a prohibited steps order in place and also an interim child arrangement order.. The mother went crazy over text claiming it was always just a "holiday" She has since admitted she had planned to live there and nearly 5 weeks later still lives abroad.. Court for custody begins in a few weeks and I am representing myself. I could really do with some advice please.
Sprouty - 6-Jun-19 @ 12:12 AM
My ex has remarried a woman from Italy and lives in a different province than me in Canada . If our son goes on a visit to Italy with them I fear what if he doesn't bring him back. What rights do I have to ensure his safe return. We are divorced but child custody isn't done on paper.Child lives with me year round and visits dad 3 x a year. Thank you
Mic - 10-May-19 @ 11:46 PM
I’m from England. Living in another part of eu as ex moved to Ireland without telling us. Cut off his number. No forwarding address etc. Pays maintenance . Forced, taken from earnings. How can I get court order to travel with my child? Do I have to go through Uk court or can I do it from overseas?
Jen - 19-Apr-19 @ 6:36 PM
My son separated from his wife years ago. Now his ex wants to take my grandchildren lo live abroad in South America without any reason. She is on benefits in uk. They both born in uk, they are very good students and very happy here. My son is confused and he don’t know what to do. Can I as grandmother request a order prohibiting the removal of my grandchildren until they parents go to a proper court? Thank you.
Vicky - 16-Apr-19 @ 3:44 PM
Hi. I'm Portuguese living in UK I got a baby boywho lives with me. He's dad is British and he's not give me any money for the baby, and see him whenever he feels like. I got the baby all the time, and I'm paying for everything on my own. I want to go back for my home country Portugal and take my son with me. But he's not agree with me. What should I do?
Carvalho - 7-Apr-19 @ 7:07 PM
My ex moved to Australia with my daughter an the agreement was that if she took her there with my permission she would support her on her own (money wise). I never wanted my daughter to go an would happily pay for her if she came back. She made it so I barely saw her. Now she’s there she’s now saying she wants money from me an is going through the authorities. Where do I stand??
Andy - 18-Mar-19 @ 5:46 PM
The current domestic legal justice system in UK is backward, the most useless, crupt and 100 ./. In favour of legal justice system and legal representative. It purposly separates the families, young children and creates cases to make money and to circulate the money in the country. 100 ./. Crupt. It is destroying the country. That is exactly what the legal justice system wants. That is the truth of UK domestic violence legal justice system. ( any body have any kind of issue or consideration about these coments may wish to contact me, will talk to you with evidence).
Muz - 20-Jan-19 @ 3:42 AM
Hi, My friend and his wife are divorcing. They are both Hungarian. She left the marital home to fly to her home country with their daughter stating that as soon as he moves out they would come back so he can have regular contact with his daughter. She is now saying she is never coming back to the uk and is not letting him have any communication with his daughter. He’s at a total loss with what to do and very upset. Does anyone know what his rights are please.
Furbz777 - 14-Oct-18 @ 5:17 PM
My husband and I divorced in 2009, 1 year after my son was born. My ex is not on the birth certificate (he asked not be). He only ever made maintenance payments for 2 yrs and then just stopped in 2011. He has not made contact in over 6 years (my son is now 9yrs). He is not in our lives at all and has since started a new family. I want to emigrate to Australia (I am a citizen but have never lived there), and I know my ex, if asked, would not agree (we had a very nasty break up) as he would not want to be helpful. DO you think the courts would allow me to emigrate with my son to Australia?
Tash - 4-Oct-18 @ 3:34 PM
Mark - Your Question:
I have a girlfriend since my divorce but have two children one three one and one five. If I move to another country does this effect them I’m worried they will forget me. I’m thinking of moving to where my girlfriend lives in Australia. I’m so worried my heart is broken into two. Ex has made my life impossible since split. What is the best decision to make I’m lost on this

Our Response:
Obviously, if you move away from the country to the other side of the world it is going to impact upon the relationship with your children because you will see them only infrequently. Even with the likes of Skype - your physical day-to-day contact with your children will be limited. However, we cannot make such a decision on your behalf. Only you alone can make such a decision.
SeparatedDads - 13-Sep-18 @ 11:46 AM
I have a girlfriend since my divorce but have two children one three one and one five. If I move to another country does this effect them I’m worried they will forget me. I’m thinking of moving to where my girlfriend lives in Australia. I’m so worried my heart is broken into two. Ex has made my life impossible since split. What is the best decision to make I’m lost on this
Mark - 12-Sep-18 @ 6:22 PM
I live in Australia and my ex and 2 children live in the UK. Child services have deemed the mother not fit to care due to her drinking habit and have been housed the children 14 & 15 with their grandparents. I am unable to get hold of their passports at the moment to fly them to me. Are there amy laws on emergency passports and getting them to Australia in the short term whilst i look into long term plans?
Ozdad - 24-Aug-18 @ 3:42 PM
Jon - Your Question:
Hi My son lives with me and has done so for the last 7 years. He is aged of 14.He does not want any contact with his natural mother. His sister who is older also has no contact with him. I have a new job in New york and. We have a contact order and its states son lives with father and daughter with mother. Mother is awkward and originally abandoned the children for 3 and half years with no contact whatsoever.Then she applied to the court for full custody. My daughter decided to live with her mother. Case was in Dec 2016. Mother and I are not on speaking terms and never will be. My job starts on December and I dont want to disrupt my childs school and it is his option. I am allowed to take him out of the country for a month on the residency order. So do I take him and bring him back every month until the court makes a decision or wait until a court makes a decision

Our Response:
Unfortunately, we cannot help with your question as our knowledge is of UK-based family law, not US. You would need to seek professional family law advice where you live.
SeparatedDads - 10-Aug-18 @ 10:30 AM
Hi My son lives with me and has done so for the last 7 years. He is aged of 14 .He does not want any contact with his natural mother. His sister who is older also has no contact with him. I have a new job in New york and. We have a contact order and its states son lives with father and daughter with mother. Mother is awkward and originally abandoned the children for 3 and half years with no contact whatsoever. Then she applied to the court for full custody. My daughter decided to live with her mother. Case was in Dec 2016. Mother and I are not on speaking terms and never will be. My job starts on December and i dont want to disrupt my childs school and it is his option. I am allowed to take him out of the country for a month on the residency order. So do i take him and bring him back every month until the court makes a decision or wait until a court makes a decision
Jon - 9-Aug-18 @ 1:49 PM
Paddington - Your Question:
Hello, I'm English, my partner is Australian. Our daughter who just turned 2 was born in Australia but has dual citizenship, 2 months after she was born we moved to Israel for my work, and then in March this year we all moved to England - again for my work. Things have broken down a lot between us as a couple and I fear we may be heading to a crunch time where we call it quits. What are our options? Because we currently reside in the London can I press to keep our daughter here, is the fact she was born in Australia a strong case for my partner to legally take her back there?

Our Response:
Much depends upon who is the day-to-day primary carer of your child. If the matter goes to court (a last resort), it is generally the primary carer who maintains the role, regardless of where your child was born. 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. Hopefully, you can decide between you if your marriage unfortunately breaks down.
SeparatedDads - 17-Jul-18 @ 11:14 AM
Hello, I'm English, my partner is Australian. Our daughter who just turned 2 was born in Australia but has dual citizenship, 2 months after she was born we moved to Israel for my work, and then in March this year we all moved to England - again for my work. Things have broken down a lot between us as a couple and I fear we may be heading to a crunch time where we call it quits. What are our options? Because we currently reside in the London can I press to keep our daughter here, is the fact she was born in Australia a strong case for my partner to legally take her back there?
Paddington - 16-Jul-18 @ 9:58 AM
Hi My partner was issued a contact order in the U.K. in 2016 in the same order his ex was granted permission to relocate to Portugal with their daughter. Contact broke down at easter and we triec to enforce in U.K. the judge said there was no jurisdiction, we should mirror the order and enforce in Portugal. Do you know how I go about starting the process for this? Does this have to be done by a solicitor? Thanks
Rosebud - 12-Jun-18 @ 10:16 PM
Hi. I was wondering what happens if cafcass doesnt get a section 7 to me by the date that was issued at a court hearing. Thanks
Matthew hughes - 1-Jun-18 @ 3:54 PM
Ben - Your Question:
Hi there, although I am not biologically his Dad I have been 'Daddy' to my six year old son since birth. I have never officially adopted him but have cared for him pretty much equally to his mother. His mother and I split a year and a half ago but are still technically married. She has recently met someone else and informed me last week that she is planning to move to Crete with him and our son. Is there anything I can do legally? I guess I don't have PR (technically at least) but is there anything I can do at this stage to apply for this?Thanks.

Our Response:
Unfortunately, there is little you can do if you are not the biological father. Even if you were the biological father, the court will not attempt to stop the other parent getting on with their lives. All you can do, is to hope your ex will still grant you access. You may wish to seek legal advice if you think you have a case to prevent the move.
SeparatedDads - 3-May-18 @ 3:03 PM
Hi there, although I am not biologically his Dad I have been 'Daddy' to my six year old son since birth. I have never officially adopted him but have cared for him pretty much equally to his mother. His mother and I split a year and a half ago but are still technically married. She has recently met someone else and informed me last week that she is planning to move to Crete with him and our son. Is there anything I can do legally? I guess I don't have PR (technically at least) but is there anything I can do at this stage to apply for this? Thanks.
Ben - 1-May-18 @ 9:03 PM
Shel - Your Question:
Hi I want to move to Australia with my partner of 10 years and my 16 year old daughter but my ex, my daughters father says HELL NO.Can he actually stop her moving out with us? Does she have to be 18? We live in the U.K. ATM

Our Response:
Your daughter's father can apply for a Prohibited Steps Order if he doesn't think it is in your daughter's best interests to leave the UK. However, much will depend upon whether your daughter wishes to leave the UK or not. At 16 while she is still under PR, her opinion will be taken seriously by the courts. 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 - 23-Apr-18 @ 11:09 AM
Hi I want to move to Australia with my partner of 10 years and my 16 year old daughter but my ex, my daughters father says HELL NO..Can he actually stop her moving out with us? Does she have to be 18? We live in the U.K. ATM
Shel - 22-Apr-18 @ 8:42 PM
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