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BRENDAN ROCHE, Barrister, 7 Bedford Row
In recent months the pressure for reform of the law on international relocation of children has been growing. In July 2009, Dr Marilyn Freeman, when introducing her research on behalf of reunite, called for a readjustment to the ‘pro-location' attitude routinely adopted in our courts. She thought this might be achieved through, among other things: (a) an amendment to the welfare checklist applicable in relocation cases so that specific consideration is given to the benefit to the child of a meaningful relationship with both parents; and (b) the routine appointment of a children's guardian in relocation cases. See M Freeman, ‘Relocation: the reunite Research Project'  International Family Law 161.
In February 2010, in the case of Re D (Children)  EWCA Civ 50,  2 FLR (forthcoming) Lord Justice Wall, as he then was, refused a father permission to appeal against a decision to allow his former wife to relocate with their two sons to Slovakia. However, in so doing, he did note that there is a perfectly respectable argument that Payne v Payne  EWCA Civ 166,  1 FLR 1052 ‘places too great an emphasis on the wishes and feelings of the relocating parent, and ignores or relegates the harm done to the children by a permanent breach of the relationship which children have with the left-behind parent'. He had no doubt that in the right case this argument would constitute a compelling reason for an appeal to be heard. However, he did not think Re D the right case.
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