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Should children have a say in where they live if their parents separate?

A Supreme Court justice has decided that teenage children of divorcing parents do have a right to express an opinion about where they want to live after their parents have separated.
The ruling was prompted by a case of a Spanish mother who had returned to Madrid, with her four children following her divorce from their British father. The family had always lived in the UK and the children were all born here too.
However, following a visit to their father in the UK, the children failed to return to Madrid because the oldest child, a 13-year-old, wanted to stay in the UK, where she felt her home was.
Her mother commenced international legal proceedings for her four children, aged 13, 11, 9 and 5, to be returned to her in Spain.  The High Court agreed with the mother and ruled that the father had wrongfully removed the children because they were habitually resident in Spain. As a result of the ruling, the children had to be sent back, even though the 13-year-old daughter did not want to return to Spain.
The children’s father appealed the decision and the Supreme Court have ruled in favour of the 13-year-old having a say in where she lives.
Supreme Court justice, Lady Hale, said that the girl had a right to have an input into any final decision and that there was “increasing recognition of children as people who have a part to play in their own lives, rather than as passive recipients of their parents’ decisions.”
This decision is likely to have an impact on many cases, ensuring that teenagers are allowed some input into the important decision about where they live.
If you are need help resolving issues relating to the arrangements for children, our family lawyers can offer advice and guidance regarding your next steps.

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