End of summer holidays and New Year are two periods when divorce enquiries rise
Family lawyers at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth are expecting a rise in divorce enquiries following the summer holidays.
They say the end of the summer holiday season is often a time – like New Year – when couples re-assess their lives and choose to end relationships and make fresh start. And a decision to separate or divorce can lead to child relocations battles if one of the parents decides to relocate abroad to start a new life.
There are about 100,000 divorces each year with about 50,000 divorces each year involve children under 16. In 2015 almost 300,000 people emigrated from Britain and with many high-flying Britons already moving for work in countries such as Australia, Dubai, Canada and the USA.
Elizabeth Hicks, specialist family and divorce lawyer at Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth, said:
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“The end of the summer holidays is a peak period for relationship break-ups. Returning home after a family holiday can be a difficult time for many couples, particularly if their relationship is under strain. What happens quite often is that couples can paper over the cracks in their relationship when they are occupied by work. However, spending long periods of time together on holiday can make people confirm the reasons they do not want to stay together.
“In our experience, the rise in enquiries following the summer holiday is not usually caused by bad experiences on the holiday itself. The decision to split has often been made weeks earlier but parents delay taking action so that their children can enjoy their summer break. It’s a similar scenario to the one we see around Christmas.
“A decision to divorce can easily lead to child relocation battles if one parent decides to start a new life abroad and take their children with them. Whether you want to relocate or oppose an application to remove your children there are many issues to consider. The courts will require you to illustrate genuine reasons behind the motivation to move abroad and to outline the housing, childcare, healthcare and education arrangements you will have in place should you be successful.
“If you’re trying to prevent the removal of your children from England and Wales [the UK] you’ll need to demonstrate your current involvement in their upbringing and the long term impact on both you and them should they move abroad. On top of this you’ll have to be able to scrutinise and criticise your ex’s plans to relocate.”
Child relocation: how the law works
In England and Wales, a parent wishing to relocate abroad with a child must seek consent from the other parent (or any other person) with parental responsibility. If that consent is withheld, permission must be sought from the Court and the parent who wants to relocate would make an application for ‘leave to remove’. If the other parent does not give their consent and if the courts have not granted permission to relocate with the child, then removing the child permanently from England and Wales is seen as child abduction and likely to be viewed as a criminal offence.
Courts will look at several factors when considering whether a child should relocate abroad:
- The Court’s primary concern is the welfare of the child.
- Courts will use the welfare checklist, set out in the Children Act 1989. This includes the child’s wishes and feelings, which are given more weight as the child grows older
- The relocating parent’s motivation will also come under scrutiny and if there is an indication that the move is to curb contact, the permission of court will not be granted
- Relocations will need to be well planned and well researched with consideration given to schools and housing
- The relocating parent will need to show that they have thought about how the child will maintain a relationship with the “left-behind parent”.