Record numbers of divorcees are seeking court orders to allow them to take their children to live overseas.

According to Helen Bowns, an associate in the family and matrimonial team at Birmingham law firm Mills & Reeve, the rise in overseas travel and internet dating has led to more people wanting to up sticks and start a new life on foreign shores.

Popular locations include former colonies Canada and Australia, with New Zealand an up-and-coming favourite, thanks to what Ms Bowns calls "the Lord of the Rings affect".

She said: "More and more people are now deciding to start afresh abroad following divorce, perhaps returning to their home country if they moved to the UK to marry, or, having met a new partner - often on the internet - from overseas."

In the majority of cases it is the mother, in the absence of permission from the father, who petitions the courts for "leave to remove from the jurisdiction", since in most cases children from divorced families usually reside with their mother.

According to Ms Bowns, if the mother has a well thought out plan, then the courts will rarely obstruct her.

She said: "If the mother can demonstrate that she has a suitable residence and education plans, and that she is not simply proposing to move overseas to frustrate contact with the father, then she is likely to get the award."

Courts will also take into consideration the wishes of older children, as well as the impact a refusal could have.

Fathers left at home can seek contact orders. Typically, this will include summer holidays and alternate Christmases and Easters. Increasingly, courts are insisting that families conduct long distance relationships electronically, via e-mail and webcam.