Relocation: Reform? Comments from the Relocation Campaign

Michael Robinson of The Custody Minefield and Relocation Campaign responds in Family Law Week to the recent articles by Richard Gregorian and Gavin Emerson concerning leave to remove applications, Payne v Payne and post-Payne developments

Payne Reviewed - A Very British Coup

After 2 years of campaigning... a little lighthearted fun. 

Click on the image below to download FNF and The Custody Minefield's response to the Interim Family Justice Review Report

Below, you can also download our first consultation response to the Family Justice Review


The Family Justice Review have seen the expert evidence, but do not mention Payne or the criticism of international family law in their interim reports

Sir Nicholas, President of the Family Courts says the Court of Appeal won't change the law, and refuses to mention the expert evidence submitted to him last year

Why do the courts and family justice review ignore evidence... could it be because it proves that judgments in relocation cases have harmed children for 40 years?

If the courts accept expert evidence, they accept they have caused harm to children. In ignorance, that was forgiveable. It no longer is.

Download our new report Family Law: Relocation and the Case for Reform

Click on the image below to learn why the courts are failing children, how this came to be, to see the evidence yourself, and to read our proposals for legal reform.

Foreword by Sir Bob Geldof


See also our main website, and new resources for parents wishing to defend against an application for leave to remove:

Now Available FREE
from The Custody Minefield
Case Law for Kindle


Leading case law and judgments of interest in leave to remove (international relocation) and internal relocation cases. Formatted for Kindle readers.

Relocation Campaign Update

Latest Announcements

In response to the judgment K (Children) [2011] EWCA Civ 793 we wish to make the following announcement:

'The Relocation Campaign welcomes the Court of Appeal's acceptance that the guidance within Payne v Payne harks back to a stereotypically 1970s view of family life, and is not relevant to modern parenting or society (at paragraphs 68 to 70 of the judgment). We particularly note and welcome paragraphs 78 and 79 of the judgment. Since starting this campaign, we have held that the rigid application of the guidance within Payne v Payne has gone counter to the paramountcy principle within the children act. The test applied by judges when considering matters which impact on child welfare was warped. The assumptions and weighting given to the distress argument were and are unscientific and unsubstantiated, yet until this judgment, have remained fiercely defended by Lord Justice Thorpe. We would further like the courts to properly consider the child's Convention Rights to contact and family life, and its repeated failures to put in place adequate safeguards to protect a child's relationships. We note that the child in Payne v Payne went on to lose all contact with their father. The guiding case was a failure. It's continued application as binding precedent has been a scandal'.

Michael Robinson

You can also read our slightly satirical take on the recent court of appeal judgment on our blog - Payne Reviewed? A Very British Coup - or the court does a Bobby Ewing? and view our recent article on relocation reform post-payne in FamilyLaw Week.

Other Recent News

The Relocation Campaign responds to an article in Family Law Week. Read our response here.

Families Need Fathers and The Custody Minefield issue a joint response to the Family Justice Review's Interim Report. We include recommendations for the reform of relocation related family law. Download our response here.

More on the campaign

In October 2009, 58 Members of Parliament signed an Early Day Motion calling for better protection of child welfare in relocation cases. In December 2009, Sir Bob Geldof very publicly criticised the family courts. In March 2010, experts from 50 countries met in Washington and signed a declaration setting out guidance which is markedly different from the guidance followed by the UK courts. In June 2010, a High Court Judge, Sir Nicholas Mostyn (also editor of Jordan’s International Family Law) said in a judgment there was an urgent need for the UK court’s guidance to be reviewed.  He cast doubt on whether the guidance which the UK judiciary have no choice but to follow sufficiently considered child welfare.

In November 2010, a presentation was given at the Palace of Westminster on problems concerning family law and child relocation abroad following separation. Ann Thomas, Managing Partner of the International Family Law Group and one of the UK’s most respected solicitors, on the subject of UK law and child relocation said: ‘'How can we, in the English legal profession, have gone so wrong, have failed so many children, have inadvertently engaged in gender discrimination for almost 2 generations....'

Sir Nicholas Wall, President of the Family Division of the Courts had stated categorically that the Lord Justices of Appeal will not review or amend the current guidance. Sir Tom McNally, Minister of State for Justice has said that the Government has no current plans to review this area of law. He did however pass on evidence to the Family Justice Review who then said that such a review was not within their remit. The courts ignored 15 psychological and educational studies, instead favouring legal principles which had existed for 40 years, but in all that time not once supported by expert findings. It has been nothing short of a scandal.

The Family Justice Review makes no mention of this evidence, and despite acknowledging receipt of the evidence, omits this entire area of law and the need for reform from their recently published interim report. No other area of UK family law has received such heavy criticism from within the legal profession.

We sincerely believe that child welfare was placed at risk by the court’s stance, and the refusal of the judiciary and Government to review this matter with urgency, as Sir Nicholas Mostyn called for in June 2011 was a further disgrace.

Sir Nicholas Wall said that more research was required. It clearly wasn't. Studies already exist which consider the impact of parental separation on sample groups of between 30-40,000 children. A study by the Children’s Society in 2009 found children to have a 40% increased risk of mental health problems when removed from one parent after separation. Relocation abroad is at the most severe end of the spectrum, and further increases risk by removing the child from the familiarity of their home environment, friends, and extended family. This detailed and empirical research went unheeded.

In July 2011, a new judgment was made public, containing the long hoped for review of Payne v Payne, by Lord Justice Moore-Bicke, Deputy Head of Civil Justice.

As stated in the Solicitors Journal, Miles Geffin, legal director at Mishcon de Reya, said it was time the Court of Appeal ruled that “slavish adherence to the guidance in Payne was inappropriate.

Payne was taken to promote a matrocentric approach – which led on occasions to placing the mother’s interests above those of the children.” he said. “It will be difficult to regard a situation where the child only spends alternate weekends with the other parent as shared care but where there is genuine shared care it will now be less likely that judges will grant a relocation order.”

Is the campaign over? We'll see what happens next.