by Marjet van Yperen - Gronleer
First published in ACCESS Spring 2013 e-zine
As society becomes increasingly international, more and more people are forming international relationships and families – with the added risk that, following a divorce, one of the parents will want to return to his or her home country.
Even in the Netherlands we are dealing with a growing number of relocation cases, due more often than not to people finding a new love in another part of the country. There’s no shortage of court rulings on this issue nowadays.
The ties that bind
Parents are well aware that they will always have ties with each other because of their son or daughter, but they don’t always realise the impact this has on their own lives.
A parent may not relocate with the children without the consent of the other parent with parental authority. If a parent flouts this requirement, and moves away from the Netherlands, this is considered child abduction – a criminal offence. A parent may not relocate even within the Netherlands without consent.
Weighing up the interests
If the other parent doesn’t give his/her consent, the court can give substitute consent to relocate. If presented with an application for this “consent in lieu”, the court must weigh up the respective interests.
Here is a list of the criteria that will be considered:
- the main carer’s right to and interest in relocating, and his or her freedom to start a new life;
- the necessity for the relocation;
- how well thought-out and wellprepared the relocation is;
- the alternatives offered by the main child-carer and measures to mitigate and/or compensate for the consequences of the relocation for the children and the other parent;
- the sharing of the care duties and the continuity of care;
- the rights of the parent who is left behind, and the children, to undiminished contact with each other in their familiar environment;
- the frequency of contact between the children and the parent left behind, prior to, and following the relocation;
- the age of the children, their opinion, and how settled they are in their environment or whether they are accustomed to relocating;
- the (additional) costs of contact as a result of the relocation, and how able the parties are to communicate with and consult each other.
Whilst the child’s interests are paramount, there are other relevant interests to consider. The parents must carefully weigh all their decisions regarding the futures of everyone in the family.
If you are dealing with relocation issues, or you know someone who is, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the author Marjet van Yperen - Groenleer, firstname.lastname@example.org or one of the other family lawyers from the Legal Expat Desk/GMWAdvocaten.
Together, we can work out an acceptable solution.
Marjet van Yperen - Gronleer
Family lawyer @ GMW advocaten