This article originally appeared in New Law Journal
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Temporary relocation cases tend to fall into two categories. The first category is for a holiday with a typical duration of a few weeks, for example to allow a child to return to a mother’s home country to see wider family during the summer holidays. The second category is a stay of a longer duration, perhaps of several months. It may be to enable a child to have an extended stay with family or to allow the parent to pursue a temporary job opportunity.
Section 13 of the Children Act 1989 permits a person with whom a child lives (as recorded in a court order) to remove a child from the United Kingdom for a period of one month without the permission of the court or the other parent being required. If a parent wishes to prevent this, because they fear that the child will not be returned and will be abducted, an application for a prohibited steps order is necessary. In cases where no order is in place, there is usually little difficulty in obtaining permission to relocate to a country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (25 October 1980) (the Hague Convention) if it is for a period of a few weeks. The court has adopted a pragmatic approach that prioritises a child being able to enjoy a holiday with a parent provided there are satisfactory return mechanisms in place, in the event that the holiday becomes longer than anticipated and agreed.