(Reproduced with permission of the author and Family Law)
I was interested to read Andrew Kirkconel's article on removal from jurisdiction at  Fam Law 333, and I welcome his contention that the current tests applied by the courts go against the spirit of the Children Act 1989.
It is also worth noting that the pivotal precedent of Poel v Poel  1 WLR 1469 pre-dates the advent of no-fault divorce, leaving the so-called absent parent to be seen as the guilty party - someone who was not worthy of 'custody' - and who could therefore have their children removed to a distant place. With the coming of the Family Law Act 1996 and true 'no-fault' divorce, it is reasonable to expect a change in the attitude of the courts and the adoption of the test proposed by Mr Kirkconel: namely proof that the proposed move is not only reasonable but positively beneficial and offers significantly better prospects than could be offered in the UK, and how the interests of the children are better served by removing them than by staying.
Where I disagree with Mr Kirkconel is in his disposal of the arguments against relocation within the UK. Whereas someone living in Dover has to apply to the court to relocate to Calais - a not insurmountable obstacle to contact, why is it that the same parent can move to Carlisle - a distance of 400 miles without the court being involved? The fact that public transport is available is of no interest to a parent struggling on a low income or with high maintenance payments - their children are summarily deprived of any regular and meaningful contact with them.
Visitors to our website (http://www.spig.clara.net) are increasingly rejecting the traditional 'contact' and 'residence' roles of separated parents, and are showing a desire to have meaningful 'parenting time' with their children on what may approach a 50-50 basis. But this sharing of the joys and burdens of post-divorce parenting can only occur if the parents remain in reasonable proximity - something which the Government and the courts would do well to consider.
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Last updated - 26 May 2000
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