(Court of Appeal, Black, Vos LJJ, Bodey J, 18 December 2015)
Private law children – Relocation – Application to internally relocate – Appeal – Principles to be applied in internal relocation cases
The father’s appeal from a decision granting the mother permission to relocate internally with the child was dismissed.
In 2014 the mother applied for a specific issue order permitting her to move with the child from London to Cumbria. At first instance the judge granted permission and found that the child remaining in London was far less conducive to her well-being than a move to Cumbria. The father appealed.
The appeal was dismissed. The Court of Appeal provided guidance on the principles to be applied in cases involving internal relocation.
In particular, Black LJ confirmed that there was no distinction between cases involving the relocation of a child within the jurisdiction and those where a parent sought to relocate with a child to another jurisdiction.
The primacy of the welfare principle dictated internal relocation principles in the same way that it dictated external relocation cases. There was no supplementary requirement of exceptionality in internal relocation cases.
Such applications resulted in an interference with the Article 8 rights of the parties. However, after the court had carried out an analysis of the impact of the welfare considerations, there was no obligation to then consider whether the resulting interference with the Art 8 rights of a parent was proportionate. Consideration of each parent’s Art 8 rights should be an essential part of the balancing exercise itself and should not be undertaken separately so as to disrupt joined up decision making.
The wishes, feelings and interest of the parents and the likely impact of the decision on each of them were of great importance, but in the context of evaluating and determining the welfare of the child.In some circumstances a judge might find the guidance given in Payne v Payne  1 FLR 1052 useful it formed no part of the applicable test of the applicable principles. A judge may find the guidance useful in highlighting the factors that should be considered but that was only as part of the multi-factorial balancing exercise that was required.