In family law, one issue which may arise in a children’s matter is ‘relocation’. Relocation is the legal term for moving with your child to another town, state or country after a divorce or separation. Relocation may raise issues in relation to parenting arrangements if the moving interferes with the ability of the non-relocating parent to live with or spend time with their child.

It is preferable that the parties try to amicably resolve all the issues that will arise as a result of the planned relocation and the agreement reached can then be formalised by filing consent orders. If this is not possible, the parties may apply to the Family Court of Australia for a judicial determination. However, if you relocate without a court order or without the consent of the non-relocating parent, a court may require you and your child to return to your previous location until it has considered the case.

The Law on Relocation

Issues around relocation are not explicitly referred to in the Family Law Act 1975. However, the overriding consideration of the Family Court in all matters concerning children, including variations to living arrangements, is determining what is in the best interests of the child. While the issue of relocation is not mentioned in legislation, there are countless court cases which provide guidance.

Careful consideration should be given to equal shared responsibility for the child, and this should be weighed against the right to freedom of movement by the parent wanting to relocate.

Other Factors Considered

There are a variety of factors that the Family Court may consider when determining an application for relocation. Below is a list of potential considerations:

  • Reasons or interests of the parent proposing the relocation;
  • The reality of the parents’ circumstances such as the availability of affordable and appropriate housing, employment and family support;
  • The impact of the proposed orders on the mental health and wellbeing of each parent;
  • The effect the relocation would have on the non-relocating parent’s ability to see their child;
  • The nature of the relationship between the child and each parent, as well as any other significant people in the child’s life such as grandparents and extended family;
  • The impact the proposed relocation would have on the child’s relationships with their parents and significant people in their life;
  • Travel costs of the non-relocating parent to see and spend time with their child; and
  • Proposals for how the non-relocating parent will be able to spend time with and communicate with their child.

Seek Legal Advice

If you have any questions or concerns regarding relocation, we can provide additional information and advice to you regarding your situation. If you would like to discuss your concerns with a legal professional please contact us on (02) 9963 9800 or at law@etheringtons.com.au