Children's custody and relocation abroad

Posted on 08 Aug 2016, by Savvas Savvides

The fundamental right of freedom of movement as guaranteed by the European Union is undoubtedly one of the most important entitlements of European citizenship. However, what happens in instances were divorced parents with children and a parent with custody wishes to move and settle permanently abroad with minor children? What is the position of the parent with visitation rights that believes that moving the children abroad is not advantageous for them? The economic downturn in Cyprus increased moves abroad mainly for purposes related to employment resulting in the above questions arising more and more frequently. Every individual Case is complex and there are numerous legal issues that have to be examined involving a parent with custody of the children moving abroad and as to when the other parent with visitation rights is able to prevent the move.

For example, a parent with visitation rights could prevent the move on one of the below reasons:

  • Moving the children abroad is not in the best interests of the children or the registration of the children in a new school away from familiar surroundings and friends would disrupt the children’s psychological condition and affect their education
  • If there is concern of permanent alienation of the children.

Conversely, the parent with custody that wishes to move abroad may assert the positive influences of moving into a new environment such as better working conditions and prospects, education and child development opportunities.

The Hague Treaty answers these difficult and complicated questions. The Treaty recognises the parent’s right that holds custody of the children to travel abroad and provides the necessary entitlements of the parent with visitation rights to apply to the Court for the return of the underage children. Australia, the US and most European countries, have signed the Hague Treaty. There are countries, however, such as Japan, India, China and the majority of African countries that have not signed the Treaty.

Althought moving abroad is a fundamental right, a parent who makes plans to relocate abroad with a minor child has to get the consent of the other parent or the approval of the Family Court. The Court will consider all of the facts and hold as paramount importance the interests of the minors and if the country of destination has signed the Hague Treaty.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought on your specific circumstances. For further information, please contact Mr Savvas Savvides.