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04 AUG 2006

Relocation cases: is the Court of Appeal applying the correct principles?

Mary Hayes, Emeritus Professor of Law, University of Sheffield; Visiting Professor, University of Swansea. This article argues that trial judges are being prevented from exercising their discretion in relocation cases in a broad and principled manner by strong rulings from the Court of Appeal. Relocation decisions have a profound affect on the ability of children to maintain frequent contact with their fathers. In the authors view, the discipline recommended in Payne v Payne [2001] EWCA Civ 166, [2001] 1 FLR 1052 and entrenched by subsequent Court of Appeal rulings is misguided. The gloss it places on the welfare principle is too narrow and is biased towards the residential parent, almost invariably the mother. As a consequence, the Court of Appeal is overruling decisions of trial judges in circumstances where the House of Lords has ruled that an appellate court should refrain from intervening. See Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol 19, No 3, 2006 for the full article.

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