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After Fabio and his wife separated, their 12-year-old son, Liam, lived primarily with Fabio though he had overnight stays with his mother. Both parents lived in the northwest. A few years after they had separated, Fabio was offered the opportunity to run a major new project in the southeast.
Fabio looked carefully at the pro’s and con’s of taking up the opportunity and came to the view that, for many reasons, he and Liam would have a better life in the southeast, especially as he had the majority of his extended family living there. Fabio’s ex-wife, very understandably, did not feel able to consent to the move and applied to the court for a prohibited steps order preventing Fabio from changing Liam’s place of residence without the permission of the court. Unlike cases which involve a move abroad, a parent wishing to move to another place in the UK with their child does not require a court order in the absence of the consent of any other parent with parental responsibility. However, a parent opposing a move within the UK will usually need to make an application to the court as Liam’s mother did.
The decision was now in the court’s hands and it had to consider which course of action was in Liam’s best interests. As is usually the case with so-called ‘relocation cases’, Fabio sought to provide the court with full details of what a move would entail. It was really important for Fabio’s written evidence to include fully worked out details of where he and Liam would live, Liam’s schooling and how he would keep up his hobbies and extra-curricular activities, realistic proposals for who would look after Liam if Fabio was late home from work, and very importantly, how Liam would maintain a good quality relationship with his mother. In short, Fabio needed to produce a complete guide to what life would be like after the move and how this would benefit Liam.
The case proceeded to a final hearing. As well as hearing evidence from both parents, the court heard from the CAFCASS officer who had spoken to all the relevant family members and Liam himself. Liam had expressed a fairly clear desire to remain living with his father and to move to the southeast with him. The CAFCASS officer communicated this to the court, though this was not the only relevant factor he considered when making his recommendation to the court.
After balancing all the factors, the court decided that Fabio should be allowed to move to the southeast with Liam. The court made an order that Liam should have regular phone and Skype contact with his mother and spend extended periods with her during the school holidays, as well as some weekend trips during term time.
NB: All of our case studies here are based on real life clients and their experiences. However, due to the sensitive nature of the work we do, all names and some factual details have been amended to protect the privacy of our clients.
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