International Relocation: What to do if a parent wishs to leave the country?

Friday, 7. September 2012 11:36

Child custody case involving international relocation are on the rise. An increase in international careers, combined with today´s ease of travel, has resulted in an upsurge of international family ties. These cross-border relationships are particularly visible within the ever-growing European Union.  More and more cases where one parent, wishs to leave the country (and the jurisdiction) with the child (or children) for a job are presenting themselves. Additionally, we are seeing many cases where one parent wishes to rleocate to his or her home country with the child.

In these caswes, the nonmoving parent often oppose the relocation, because they do not want to lose the regular contact with their child.  As parenthood is not dissoluble, the main problem is, that the relocation of one parent (with the child) impaires the visitation rights of the other parent. This is why relocation cases are often referred to as the “San Andreas fault of family law” (Richard Chisholm, The Paramount Consideration: Children´s Interests in Family Law, 16 AUSTL. J. FAM. L. 87, 107 [2002]). Relocation cases are more often a lose-lose situation than a win-win situation.

The first question in international relocations cases is, “What jurisdiction?” Common law countries like the United States, England or Wales have a different approach compared to civil law countries like Germany, France or Poland. Some states of the United States for example still follow the “concept of presumtion”.

International relocation sometimes goes hand in hand with international child abduction. In such cases, the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction or the Brussels IIa Regulation may be applicable.