Relocation cases are legal disputes between separated parents which arise when one proposes to move to a new locality with their child and the other objects. Relocation disputes are increasingly common and are a topic of international concern, but in England and Wales little is known about the everyday reality of these cases: who the individuals are, where they are going and why, and how cases fare in the trial courts. While appeal court cases once led England to be characterised as ‘pro-relocation’, there has been some sign of change in recent years. However, there was no data to indicate whether this trend reflects the reality of the majority of cases, which do not reach the appeal court.

The research conducted in this project added to the information about formally reported relocation cases by analysing data about relocation trials from three sources. One was transcripts of judgments from first instance courts hearing relocation disputes, all decided during 2012. The second came from a questionnaire answered by family lawyers about their experiences of relocation litigation. The third, which was funded by the Nuffield Foundation, comprised 34 qualitative interviews with parents who were involved in a relocation dispute between 2012 and 2013. These sources give detailed information about individual relocation cases, and the trends of outcomes in the trial courts.

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