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Can I remove my child from Scotland or from the United Kingdom?

When a relationship breaks down there can be considerable upheaval, including a desire to move home, change jobs or relocate to be nearer extended family.

In theory, any parent with parental rights can, under Scots law, move the child anywhere within the United Kingdom without the consent of the other parent.

But, if the matter is disputed, a Court decision is required.

Any parent wishing to remove their child from the United Kingdom must obtain the consent of the other parent before doing so if that parent also has parental rights and responsibilities.

This is the case whether travelling internationally is for a holiday, to visit family or to relocate permanently.

Relocation litigation is increasingly common. When your relationship breaks down what right do you have if you wish to relocate or indeed if you wish to prevent your children being removed abroad?

These cases can be amongst the most difficult to resolve; not least because of the potential impact following relocation on the relationship between the left behind parent and the child.



If you wish to relocate abroad with a child then you must seek the consent of the parent who is to be “left behind”.

If he or she refuses to give their consent then an application must be made to the court seeking permission to relocate with the child out with the United Kingdom.

The court’s decision to allow a relocation involves a delicate balancing exercise in which the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration.


The facts and circumstances of each case will be taken into account.

  • a reasonably and carefully framed child relocation plan is essential
  • the threat of relocation on contact with the “left behind” parent is of considerable importance
  • the effect of relocation on the child’s contact with extended family in Scotland or the benefits of having a relationship with family in another country will also be taken into account
  • the child’s wishes, depending upon the child’s age and maturity will also be taken into account but are unlikely to be determinative.

If you are planning to relocate or if you fear that your former partner is making plans to leave the country with your child, advice at the earliest stage from an expert in family law and parents’ rights could be crucial to safeguard your child’s welfare in Scotland or abroad.

If you have a question or enquiry then get in touch with our Family Law team

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