The children's order 1995: specific issue order permitting relocation to another jurisdiction; the principles/guidance to be followed.

Author:O'Halloran, Kerry
Position:Northern Ireland

Re NT v AT

The Family Care Centre Belfast Smyth

20 June 2012

This case concerned an application for a Specific Issue Order to enable X, a young mother, to emigrate to country Q with Y (aged almost 5), the sole child of their marriage, despite objections from her husband, H.


In 2004, the maternal grandmother (now aged 44) emigrated to Q with her new husband and her younger daughter, where all have since acquired citizenship, full employment and are happily and permanently settled. X, her other daughter and the present applicant, having remained in Northern Ireland due to her relationship with H whom she married in 2010, maintained a very close relationship with her mother with whom she was in regular contact by phone and Skype. The grandmother had returned to Northern Ireland on a frequent basis to see her daughter and other members of her family.

X asserted that she had always made it clear to H that she wished to relocate to Q in the future. He denied that this was the case. X produced a letter that she said H had sent her during their relation ship in which he stated: '... Come the time off Q [sic] if you don't want me 2 go that's fine, it's your choice but if you do and I want 2 then I will cause I don't ever plan or wanna lose you, u r 2 special to me ...'

The court accepted X's evidence that H had sent the letter and that this confirmed his knowledge of X's future intention.

In 2008, X and H obtained year-long working visas for Q. They sold their home beforehand, making a substantial profit. The court found that it had been their joint intention to have a working holiday with a view to exploring the potential for a permanent relocation. However, H was extremely homesick and wished to return to Northern Ireland within a very short time. There was a dispute between the parties about the assistance provided by the maternal grandmother and her husband to enable H to obtain employment and to become involved in local sporting opportunities. The court heard evidence by Skype from the maternal grandmother, who insisted that she and her husband had actively encouraged H in respect of various employment opportunities and provided him with details of a local football training event. In cross examination, H conceded that he had made no effort to obtain employment or to become involved in the local community.

X had agreed to return to Northern Ireland with H and Y because H was unhappy in Q. The court accepted her evidence that this was contrary to her own wish, which was to remain in Q with her mother and her sister. X insisted that H did not rule out relocation in the future.

Present circumstances

The court was provided with a lengthy exchange of text messages...

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