Why Relocating Your Children After Divorce Is Not Always Straightforward

Why Relocating Your Children After Divorce Is Not Always Straightforward

When the parents of children divorce, or separate when in a de facto relationship, there are many aspects of the children’s lives that need to be agreed upon. This will often be done with the support and representation of expert family lawyers from, and ultimately any agreement will be sanctioned by the family court.

If no agreement can be found however, the court, having heard from both parties, will decide the way forward. It does so via a family order which will normally relate to which parent they will live with, what the other parent’s visitation arrangements are, and assuming the court has no information which precludes it, it will rule that joint parental responsibility applies.

In any decision, the court will always have as its most important priority the welfare and best interests of the children. This applies regardless of whether or not the two parents are on speaking terms, or generally amicable to each other. In other words, the court is not concerned with how much either parent thinks the other should not have responsibility or visitation for example.

The court will also most likely be required when one of the parents, usually the one with whom the children live, wishes to relocate to another town, city, or state. Now, in some cases, they might just be doing this to spite the other parent, but this is rare.

More usually the parent has a genuine reason for wanting to relocate. This can often be a career change where they have secured employment which is based some distance away. Another reason could be that they are remarrying or in a relationship that is moving to a stage where they wish to live with their partner, who just happens to live in another city.

No matter how justified or understandable the reason for wanting to relocate, even though the children may live with them, that parent does not have the right to simply take their children and move.

Bear in mind joint parental responsibility means that important matters such as where they go to school is as much a matter for the absent parent to decide as it is for the parent the children live with.

Ideally, an agreement should be sought, again with family lawyers to help negotiate if necessary, to see if they can come to some arrangement that both are happy with. This could involve the absent parent being given extended visitations, or have the children live with them for periods whilst the children are on school holidays.

To assist the parents to come to an arrangement, the Family Dispute Resolution service can help, and possibly offer solutions that the couple had not considered in order to end the en passe.

If all else fails then ultimately it will be for the family court to give a ruling as to whether it will allow the parent wishing to relocate to make the move with their children.  It will certainly consider the distance that their new home is from their current one and will be more likely grant it if it considers this is near enough for reasonable visitation arrangements..

However, if the relocation involves the parent requesting it moving from one side of the country to the other with their children, it is less likely to grant it. It may feel that this does not serve the best interests of the children as the contact they will have with the absent parent will effectively end. If that is what it orders, then the relocation cannot take place.