Relocation of children - to move or not to move
It is a common scenario here in Western Australia to hear of two parents from different continents. It’s likely you all know someone, or someone who knows someone from England, Ireland or Scotland who has moved over, settled down with an Australian and had a couple of kids. Let’s face it for a while there us pommes were taking over.
However, what happens when things go wrong and one parent decides to move home, with the child?
Perhaps they want to be closer to family where they will have added support. It’s a terrible thought for any parent, that they may not be able to spend time with their child as frequently as they would like. The prospect of having to have a long-distance relationship with your child who moves overseas is even worse. Because of this it is rare for one parent to consent to a child relocating with the other parent and that is when solicitors and the Family Court become involved.
It is important to remember that just because you don’t agree to your child going, it doesn’t mean they won’t be permitted to go. Likewise, just because you want to relocate, it doesn’t mean you will be permitted to. In deciding whether a child should be permitted to move the Court will consider what is in the child’s best interests and their welfare. This can encompass a number of different considerations but the primary considerations are: -
- The benefit to the child of having a meaningful relationship with both of their parents. This requires the Court to give consideration to whether any proposed relocation is likely to impact upon the child’s ability to maintain a positive relationship with the absent parent. Unfortunately, in cases of overseas relocation, one parent ultimately feels aggrieved.
- Secondly the Court will consider the need to protect the child from any physical or psychological harm and from being subjected or exposed to family violence or neglect. In these circumstances, it may be that the relocating parent can show that the relocation will safeguard the child from any further harm. The idea being that if they are far away, they are safe.
Secondary to these issues the Court will consider things such as; the child’s age and maturity, the ability of the relocating parent to promote a good relationship with the staying parent, the happiness of the relocating parent, the cirucmstances surrounding the relocation and the support (both financial and non-financial) available to the relocating parent. There are many other factors which can be taken into account and that is why if you are considering relocating with your child, or if you just want to understand the process or what is involved, it is important to get legal advice.
Please remember you cannot just unilaterally decide to relocate with your child. If the other parent does not agree and you decide to go anyway, the chances are your child (and you) will be back pretty quickly!