Changing your Children’s country of residence – The summer holidays are coming to an end and for some families this means the end of a stay with a parent who lives or works in a different country. Perhaps the children want to remain in the UK after a holiday there, or they may want to move to Spain where they have enjoyed a long holiday visit with the non-custodial parent. Any change made without the agreement of both parents can lead to lengthy and stressful Hague Convention proceedings.
Sadly some parents think that they can apply for custody after they have moved to a new country or returned to their home country. However if you don´t have agreement about moving you must firstly apply to the courts in the country of your “habitual residence” for leave to remove the children. The European definition of residence for children is the country where they have school and friends and become settled. The younger the child the more quickly they will acquire a country of residence.
For the parent who wishes to leave the country of habitual residence there is a heavy burden of proof to show that it is in the best interests of the children. In particular cases we have dealt with courts in San Sebastián, Denia and Ibiza we were able to show that the children would benefit because they were returning to their home country with good opportunities for education and where the family had a strong supporting network. The financial circumstances also need to be proved showing that the mother or father who has custody of the children can work or be better supported in the other country.
Each case is different but in all cases it is important to propose or agree a proper programme of visits for the parent who does not have custody. This should also include telephone, email or Skype contact to ensure that moving country has a limited effect on the parental relationships with the children.
As with many aspects of Family and Inheritance law prevention is always better than cure and it is definitely best to seek advice before changing your country of residence with your children.
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