Arguably relocation matters are the most difficult cases for a Court to decide the children’s best interest. The Court has a wide discretion in determining parenting matters, referring to the factors listed in Section 60CC of the Family Law Act.
Considerations that may weaken an application to relocate include the following:
- The children may spend significant time with both parents and it is not in their interest for the time with the “left behind” parent to be reduced;
- Relocating to another suburb, state or country is likely to have a negative impact on the children. They may not cope with changes associated with relocating including attending a new school, living in a new home, experiencing different cultures and anxiety that may be experienced due to their time with the other parent decreasing;
- When relocating a child’s relationship with the left behind parent can be effected as that parent may no longer be able to be involved in the children’s daily tasks or attend at extracurricular activities;
- There may be practical difficulty due to substantial time and expense for the parent to visit the child or children; difficulties may also arise if the children are of a young age and not able to travel alone;
- If the children are young, it may be difficult for a parent to maintain a relationship over electronic means such as Skype, telephone or email.
Grounds that the Court may consider sufficient to permit relocation:
- If the left behind parent has not previously exercised their responsibility in parenting and despite the relocation the Court is satisfied that the child’s relationship with the left behind parent can be maintained;
- If there is a risk to the child or the children’s safety due to them being exposed to physical harm, abuse, neglect or family violence;
- If there are support networks in place that would promote the child or children’s best interest if relocation was permitted;
- The use of technology, including Skype means that the children’s relationships with the other parent could be maintained due to regular communication at minimum cost and;
- Finally, the Court may consider impact on the parent seeking to relocate and if they are not permitted to relocate with the children, if it may affect their capacity to parent.
These are not the only considerations that may be considered when a party makes an application to the Court requesting an Order for relocation.
If you are considering relocating or you wish to seek advice about restraining another party from relocating with your child/children, please telephone our office to make an appointment to attend on a solicitor for further advice.