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Last revision: 29/11/2023
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This document takes the form of a written statement. It is designed to be used by a parent where they are concerned that the other parent (the respondent) is intending to or has already relocated with their child or children without their consent. The purpose of the document is to support an application for an order to prevent the child(ren) from being removed, or for an order for the return of the child(ren). The document is designed for use where the child or children ordinarily live and have their home in England and Wales.
Ordinarily, a full statement is not required when a parent is making an application to the Court however it can be useful to do so where there is a risk that a child (or more than one child) will be relocated without their consent or where the relocation has already taken place. A statement will be necessary where a parent is asking the Court to take urgent action, because this must always be justified and explained in full.
It can sometimes be difficult for a parent to explain all the key issues where there is a concern about the other parent relocating with the child(ren) without their permission. The document can therefore be used to assist in setting out all the relevant issues and, if necessary, to explain why a court order may be urgently required. The parents may have written down any previous agreement about child arrangements, which can be attached to the application to evidence what the previous arrangement has been. This can assist the Court in understanding what the usual arrangements are for the child(ren).
The document can be used in support of a court application in either of the following situations:
(1) The respondent has already relocated with the child or children within a new area of England and Wales
An example of this would be where a respondent parent has moved with a child from London to Manchester without the other parent's agreement. Where this is the case, the parent who is objecting will use this document together with an application form and will ask the Family Court to make an order that the child(ren) shall be returned to their previous home area. This type of order is called a Specific Issue Order. The parent will ask the Court to make an order to prevent this from happening again. This type of order is called a Prohibited Steps Order.
This type of application can be used provided that the child is or the children are still within the jurisdiction of England and Wales. Where relocation has been outside of the jurisdiction, a different type of application will be required.
(2) The respondent has shown signs that they plan to relocate to a new area with the child or children
An example of this would be where the respondent parent has verbally suggested that they intend to move to a new area with the child without the other parent's agreement. As the child(ren) will not yet have left the jurisdiction in this type of circumstance, it is possible to use this document even where the respondent has stated that they wish to relocate with the child(ren) outside of England and Wales (and this extends to a proposal to move outside of the United Kingdom too). Where this is the case, the parent who is objecting will use this document together with an application form and will ask the Family Court to make an order to say that the relocation shall not take place. This type of order is called a Prohibited Steps Order.
It is useful to note that in those circumstances, it is also possible to contact the Police in order to create a port alert so that the National Border Targeting Centre can assist in preventing the child(ren) from being removed from the UK.
It should be noted that in very serious circumstances, for example if the whereabouts of the respondent and the child(ren) is unknown, it is possible to make a different application to the High Court for a higher level of assistance than the level which is contained within this type of application. This type of assistance can be provided from an officer of the court (known as a Tipstaff officer). The Tipstaff can be granted the authority to locate and collect a child or a child's passport. Where a parent feels these measures may be justified, this document should not be used.
Both of the above types of applications are commonly made on an urgent basis, and it may sometimes be justified for a court order to be made on the same day that the application has been made.
This document is not designed for use where there is a current Child Arrangements Order in place because there are additional factors which the parent may wish to consider, such as an application to enforce the existing order or an order to direct that the police must assist with the recovery of the child(ren).
How to use this document
The document take the form of a statement and should be completed with all the relevant information. It is important to note that providing false information to the Court within a signed statement can have very serious repercussions. It is therefore essential that the statement is completed accurately and truthfully. It is possible to make adjustments to the document in word format, if necessary.
Once the statement has been completed, it should be signed and dated. It is acceptable to provide an electronic signature or to provide a handwritten signature. The signed statement should then be attached to support the application which must take the form of:
Once all the relevant documents have been completed, they can either be taken in person to the court desk at the nearest family court. Alternatively, the documents may be emailed to the 'family applications' email address which will be found on the homepage of the relevant Court. It should be noted that the application should ordinarily be made to the Court which is closest to the child(ren)'s ordinary home.
There is a court fee of £232 which must be paid upon the making of the application. However, if the person making the application is on a low income, there is a chance that they may only have to pay a reduced amount (or no fee at all). In order to request fee remission, an online code can be obtained which must be written in the top right corner of page 3 of the C100. Alternatively, a form EX160 can be completed and submitted with the above documents. The court staff will be able to indicate how any payment to the Court must be made.
It is possible to request that an order is made on the same working day as the application, without providing any formal notice to the respondent. In those circumstances, the Court will consider the statement and application to see whether this is justified. The Court may wish to hold a short hearing with the parent who has made the application, which sometimes can take place via telephone. In the event that an order is made, the order (together with a copy of the application) must then be served upon the respondent so that they are made aware of the obligations which they must comply with. The respondent will then attend all future hearings.
It is also possible to request that an order is made less urgently, but still within the next few days/weeks. In those circumstances, the respondent will be notified of the proceedings and will be invited to attend a hearing to discuss the making of any urgent order. These types of hearings can also take place via telephone.
When an application is being made urgently, this must be made clear either in the subject header of the email, when making the application via email, or by notifying the staff at the court desk, if the application is being made in person.
Once the Court has decided about the making of any urgent or interim orders to deal with the issue of the relocation, it will go on to consider all the other issues, including the making of a Child Arrangements Order so that the living and contact arrangements for the child(ren) can be regulated in the longterm. A further hearing (and possibly multiple hearings) will be held in order to examine this and safeguarding checks will also be undertaken by CAFCASS.
The main piece of legislation which governs these types of issue is The Children Act 1989.
The Family Law Act 1986 (and the 1996 Hague Convention) contain important legal provisions which are relevant to determining the question of the jurisdiction of the Court to make orders about children.
Family proceedings are also governed by the Family Procedure Rules.
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