Can I relocate with my child after receiving court orders?

Date: Mar 30, 2016

In the event of separation, parents may be granted court orders with respect to their children's living arrangements. Such orders may, in particular, provide for the children to live with one parent and spend certain amount of time with the other or to live with both parents in a shared-care regime. Often, this would mean that parents need to remain living in their current location, to be able to comply with the orders and facilitate the children's relationship with both parents.

However,  circumstances may arise where one of the parents may need to relocate to another part of the state or interstate. If such relocation impacts on the amount of time the children are to spend with the other parent pursuant to the existing orders, the orders will need to be changed, ether by consent or through the Court.

Relocation and parenting arrangements following separation

There are a number of reasons why one of the parents would want to relocate following a separation. For instance, they may be seeking family support or better job opportunities or trying to escape family violence. However, parents who are restricted by parenting orders may face legal obstacles if they want to relocate.

If the intended move makes it more difficult or impossible for parents to comply with the existing parenting arrangements, they will need to agree to change the orders to allow the child to relocate with one of the parents. Alternatively, they will need to apply to Court to vary the existing orders.

Even where no orders exist and parents have informal parenting arrangements following separation, it is advisable in most situations that the parent who is contemplating relocation obtains the other parent's consent. It is also preferable that the agreed arrangements are then formally recorded in Consent Orders or at least a Parenting Plan. 

Your family lawyer can assist you with negotiating such an agreement and documenting it in a legally binding document.

What happens if the other parent does not agree?

In the event the other parent does not agree to relocation, an application can be lodged with the Court seeking an order to allow the relocation with the child. In most situations, it is advisable to refrain from relocation until the relevant orders are obtained, to avoid a situation where the Court may order the return of the child to the other parent.

In making a determination regarding relocation, the Court will consider a range of factors, with the focus on the best interests of the child, and assess the parents' competing proposals as to the child's living arrangements in various scenarios (that is, if the relocation does or does not take place).

If you would like to know more about relocation and its legal implications, talk to the experts at Craddock Murray Neumann Lawyers today.