When parents have separated, making decisions about the care arrangements for their children can be fraught with difficulty. Good intentions on focussing on co-parenting or "parenting apart" and what is in the best interests of the children can fade - especially when one parent is keen to move away from the area of the former family home.

If there is a lack of co-operation from the other parent then what do you need to do?

If you are living with your child or children in Scotland and you would like to move away from the area with them, the ideal is that you reach agreement with the other parent on all aspects of the proposed move, including where the children will be living, where they will go to school or nursery and how the other parent will maintain a relationship with the parent who is left behind. Of course, this will not be possible or appropriate in all circumstances.

Agreement is not always possible, however, and that is when you may require to make an application to the court for permission to move away or relocate with the children.

What constitutes a move away? Is a 2 hour drive far enough that I will need permission from the court?

There are differing views on how far one parent can move their children without the consent of the other parent or a court order permitting the relocation. A parent moving from one region to another in Scotland may find that such a move is resisted by the other parent. A proposed move from Aberdeenshire to Tayside, for example, was the subject of a court action in which I was involved in 2021.

Broadly similar considerations are likely to apply to any long-distance relocation whether it is within Scotland, within the United Kingdom, or an international move.

What does the court consider when deciding whether to grant permission?

In the vast majority of cases, a parent seeking to relocate with children must, at the very least, provide the court with information about the following:

• the proposed accommodation for the children, its suitability and affordability;

• the proposed schooling arrangements for the children;

• how the parent seeking to move away will provide financially for the children;

• the proposals for maintaining contact between the children and the other parent; and

• the reasons for the proposed move.

The court then has to decide, in view of all of the available information, what is in the best interests of the children. Many parents who are seeking to relocate with the children may be surprised that their reasons for wishing to move are not uppermost when the court makes its decision. Even if there are good reasons for the move and the proposed arrangements have been well-thought out, a parent seeking to relocate with their children would be well-advised to consult at an early stage with an experienced family lawyer.


Lydia McLachlan

Senior Associate