Relocation cases are legal disputes between separated parents arising when one proposes to move to a new locality with their child and the other objects. Relocation disputes are increasingly common and have become a topic of international concern. This project has used empirical methods to gain insight into the everyday reality of these cases in practice, helping to understand case characteristics, the mechanisms used to resolve them, case outcomes, and the views of parents who have been involved in them. The cases in this study show that two thirds of applications are allowed, and different characteristics of a relocation case - such as destination and childcare arrangements - have a statistically significant impact on the chances of the application being permitted or not. Parents perhaps unsurprisingly find the court process very stressful, and even those parents who achieve the outcome they want describe contesting a relocation dispute in heartfelt terms. The project helps us better to understand relocation cases, and so to work on reforming the law from an informed position.
Until now, no data have existed in this country about the success rate of relocation applications, and only very limited information was available about the characteristics of cases or the experiences of those families who were involved in them. This project has allowed detailed understanding to be gained about those issues. An understanding about overall success rates, and about the kinds of case characteristics which affect case outcomes, is particularly important for family lawyers, since it allows them to give useful advice to clients in individual cases. The findings from this project also allow England and Wales to join an on-going global debate about relocation disputes, since other jurisdictions have been conducting studies of this nature for some years already.