Relocating Children a Hard Road for All
For family law purposes, relocation means moving with your children to another town, state or country or even within the same large city.
Relocation cases are notoriously difficult because they generally involve parents who have separated with uncompromising and conflicting proposals about where and with whom children should live.
These cases rarely settle and so usually result in a Court making a determination whether or not relocation will be permitted.
The basic rule is that if moving is going to limit the time your children spend with the other parent, then you need that parent's consent to relocate. Without that, you need to apply to the Court for permission.
If consent is not given by either the non-residential parent or the Court and the other parent relocates the children unilaterally, then a Court can order the children’s return.
So to reduce unnecessary disruption to children’s lives, relocation should be negotiated by the parents or determined by the Court before a proposed relocation proceeds.
Whilst complex, relocations cases are dealt with in the same way as other parenting disputes. The Court’s considerations may include the reduced time the children will spend with the non-resident parent, travel time and possible accommodation costs, the non-resident parent’s ability to be involved in the children's schooling and extracurricular activities, separation of the children’s extended family and friends and views expressed by the children.
Another consideration for the Court is the reason for the parent wanting to relocate with the children, such as it being financially, professionally or academically advantageous, to be closer to family support, to cohabitate with a new spouse or to return "home" after being unable to settle in another location.
There is no special rule that determines whether a relocation will be permitted or how far a parent is entitled to relocate. Rather, each case is determined on its merits, with the children's best interests the Court’s primary consideration.
Often parents find it hard to accept that their freedom of movement can be restricted by a Court, but that is one outcome of a relocation application and the reality is that there generally will only be one happy parent and one unhappy parent after a relocation determination.
Have you separated or divorced and going through a similar circumstance with your children? You can contact us. We'll be able to help you via a quick phone call, ask us a question via email or even chatting with you online.