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Title: Reassessing relocation : a comparative analysis of legal approaches to disputes over family migration after parental separation in England and New Zealand
Author: George, Robert H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2699 1164
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2010
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Relocation cases are 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 becoming a topic of international concern. This thesis takes a comparative socio-legal approach to examining the legal responses to relocation cases in England and New Zealand. In England, Payne v Payne [2001] 1 FLR 1052 continues to apply principles first enunciated in Poel v Poel [1970] 1 WLR 1469, and generally sees children’s welfare as being promoted by allowing primary carers to relocate, so long as such moves are bona fide and well-considered. New Zealand rejected this approach in the mid-1990s, and now places more emphasis on children having strong relationships with both parents. Consequently, where England is characterised as ‘pro-relocation’, New Zealand is ‘anti-relocation’. Qualitative interviews with legal practitioners in both countries suggest that these characterisations are reflective of the law in practice. Looking at hypothetical case-studies, English practitioners are more likely to support proposed relocations than New Zealanders. Many English practitioners think their law to be outdated, and in particular that it gives too much weight to applicants’ well-being and too little to the value of children having strong relationships with both parents. However, in New Zealand, where an approach similar to that favoured by many English participants is applied, practitioners have the opposite concern, that applicants’ well-being is given insufficient weight, and promoting strong relationships with both parents has become overly dominant when assessing children’s welfare. It is suggested that the current variation in approaches to relocation may fit broader trends in post-separation parenting in different countries. However, given the current ‘search for common principles’ which can be applied to relocation cases internationally, this thesis raises questions about the likelihood of international agreement being reached.
Supervisor: Maclean, Mavis Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Law ; Family law ; European and comparative law ; Socio-legal studies ; Law ; Family Law ; Welfare Principle ; Relocation ; Practitioners' Experiences ; Comparison Between England and New Zealand