Moving without your partner’s consent
If you share parental authority of your children with your ex-partner, moving into a new home with them is not straightforward and moving abroad without the consent of your ex-partner’s is viewed as child abduction.
This post was reviewed and updated on 15 July 2020
Joint parental authority
When both parents share custody, consent is required before moving. Custody relates to the rights and responsibilities that parents have for their children. Custody confers decision-making rights, including the authority to decide where a child should live. Parents with joint custody have an equal say in their children’s domestic situation. If one parent moves without the consent of the other parent, it will count against them in court proceedings.
Unilateral measures are not viewed favorably. A parent in this position will need to have very good reasons why the judge should not order them to move back, though this obviously depends on the age of the children, how long they have been in their new home and other factors.
Where you have sole custody of your child, there is no official requirement to seek the consent of your ex-partner before moving with your child. However, in recent times courts have drawn different conclusions.
One example is a provisional ruling by the Midden-Nederland district court in 2014. The mother had sole parental responsibility but their son lived with his father for half the time. The mother moved without the father’s consent. The distance involved meant they effectively no longer shared parental duties. The court granted an injunction on the basis that despite having sole custody, the mother was not free to move home with the parties’ son without his father’s consent. Father and son had a strong bond and had always lived together in a family situation. Moving compromised the interests of the father to an unacceptable degree. The court concluded that the interests of the parties’ son was best served if he continued to live in the previous settled situation. The mother had already moved home. This meant the court provisionally entrusted the father with the parties’ son pending a permanent decision on where the son should live.
We can draw 3 conclusions from this judgment:
- Even if you have sole custody, it does not necessarily mean that you can move with your child to a new home without your ex-partner’s consent.
- If you move home without the consent of your ex-partner, be aware that this will not be approved retrospectively by a court. Judges are not impressed by parents who act unilaterally.
- You should be aware that in such cases the court may well rule that your child should live with your ex-partner if they have requested this.
Susan studied Law at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. She has worked as a lawyer since 1986 and gained an immense amount of experience in dealing with the full range of matrimonial and separation issues in international divorces. Susan joined GMW lawyers in 2011 and is a member of the Family Mediators Association.
Susan is an expert in contested financial disputes both in and outside court. One of her key strengths is the ability to empower her clients so they can understand and take control of the process, and forward constructively, especially for the children’s sake. She further specialises in strongly contested residence, contact disputes and is experienced in dealing with the legal aspects of child abduction.
Susan frequently acts for parents whose children have been taken abroad illegally and assists in obtaining their return.