Belton v Belton: CA 1987

The mother appealed against refusal of leave to remove her children from the UK on emigrating to New Zealand.
Held: The appeal succeeded.
Purchas LJ said that: ‘in carrying out the exercise of assessing what was in the interest of A as a paramount consideration, the judge omitted what to my mind was a crucial factor. That factor was the stability of the new family unit in which A was to grow up, the tensions that might be created in it during the ensuing 2 years or so, and the effect that that would necessarily have on A – of great gravity if the union in fact broke up under those stresses and still of considerable gravity if that union came under tensions which would almost certainly arise if the plans to go to New Zealand were frustrated . . I sympathise and understand, where a lay person such as a father is concerned, the difficulty of reconciliation with the concept of such a separation being in the paramount interests of the child in the long term, but the long-term interests of the child revolve around establishing, as Griffiths LJ (as he then was) said in Chamberlain, a sound, secure family unit in which the child should go forward and develop. If that can be supported by contact with the father, that is an immense advantage, but, if it cannot, then that is no reason for diverting one’s concentration from the central and paramount issue in the case . . the authorities and the law dictate the hard and difficult decision which must be made once it is established that the custodial parent genuinely desires to emigrate and, in circumstances in which there is nothing adverse to be found in the conditions to be expected, those authorities are quite clear in the course that the court must take, whatever the hardship and distress that may result.’


Purchas LJ


[1987] 2 FLR 343


England and Wales


CitedChamberlain v de la Mare CA 1983
The mother wanted to take the two infant children to New York with her new husband. The father resisted. At first instance, Balcombe J had considered both Poel and Nash, but said that without wishing to be an iconoclast, he would simply apply the . .

Cited by:

CitedPayne v Payne; P v P CA 13-Feb-2001
No presumption for Mother on Relocation
The mother applied for leave to return to New Zealand taking with the parties’ daughter aged four. The father opposed the move, saying that allowing the move would infringe his and the child’s right to family life. He had been refused residence.
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Updated: 18 May 2022; Ref: scu.417802