One of the most emotionally difficult circumstances in family law arises when one parent wishes to relocate a child’s residence to another city or town.
A move away that would make it significantly more difficult for the child to spend time with the other parent is a major long term issue, and equal shared parental responsibility requires parents should make a “genuine attempt” to come to a “joint decision” on this issue.
However if an agreement cannot be reached a decision of the court will be necessary.
Although the courts have said relocation matters do not form any special category of cases, and that the best interests of the child remains the paramount consideration in determining what order will be made, there are a number of other considerations that have been expressed by the case law such as:
- Recognition that a relocation case represents a tension between a parent’s constitutionally protected freedom to live where they choose; and the rights of children to enjoy a meaningful involvement of the other parent in their lives;
- Recognition that best interests is the “paramount” and not “sole” consideration;
- The court is not bound by the proposals of the parties and may consider other proposals;
- The relocating parent is not required to establish compelling reasons for the relocation.
Important evidence in relocation cases will depend on the facts of each case and evidence such as the prospects for the relocating parent financially, geographically or emotionally, the nature of the child’s relationship with the non relocating parent, existence of any family violence and any other relevant matters need to be examined.
Timing can also be important. If a parent unilaterally decides to relocate a child, obtaining legal advice as swiftly as possible is recommended.
While the court does not have power to order a parent to live in a particular location, the court can make orders as to where the child will live. Thus it is important to also consider what the options might be if the court orders the child to remain in a particular location but the residential parent decides to move anyway.
In the event that a parent decides to relocate a child without consultation, we recommend you contact Hooper Family Lawyers Brisbane without delay.