Following separation proceedings, it is often the case that each parent will need to find somewhere to live. This may involve one parent wanting to move with their child to another city, state or country. Under the Family law, moving a child away to another city or country is known as relocation. The relocating parent can ask the court for a relocation order, which will allow them to move with the child. The other parent can ask for an order to stop the relocation of their child. Where a proposed move will significantly prevent or limit a child from spending time with a parent or another significant individual a court may refuse a request to relocate a child.
When assessing any proposal bought before it to relocate the residence of a child, whether it be internationally or otherwise, the court will likely have regard primarily to the interests of the child. When determining this, the court generally employs a three-stage process of analysis.
Firstly, the court will identify the nature of both parties’ proposals regarding where the child should live.
Secondly, the court will take into account the relevant considerations established in section 60CC of the Family Law Act 1975. The court will look at the advantages and disadvantages of each of these considerations in respect to each proposal that is put forward by the parties. Whilst the considerations of the court are extensive, the court may consider:
- the benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of the child’s parents;
- the need to protect the child from physical or psychological harm from being subjected to, or exposed to, abuse, neglect or family violence;
- the views expressed by the child;
- the nature of the child’s relationship with each parent and other persons, including grandparents or relatives;
- the extent to which each of the child’s parents has participated in the long-term issues relating to the child, spent time with the child and communicated with the child;
- the likely effect of changes to the child’s circumstances; and
- the practical difficulty and expense associated with having a child spend time and communicate with a parent, and whether such difficulty will impact a child’s personal relationship with the parents.
Finally, the court will then identify the party’s proposal which is preferred and make the relevant relocation orders. The decision is often made having regard to which proposal best ensures the child’s interests.
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Please note that the above is general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice. All situations are different and legal advice must always be tailored to the specific situation.