Relocation with a child after a separation is never simple, but it also is not impossible. Where you are relocating is an insignificant factor, the main issue is whether or not the relocation will impact a parent’s ability to have a meaningful relationship with their child. If this is the case, the affected parent can object.
In circumstances where there is a sole parental responsibility due to violence of the other party, relocation is much simpler. If this is not the case, and the other party does not agree to you moving, you will need to address the matter in Court. Failing to do so could result in the other party successfully obtaining a recovery order, even if there are no orders in place. This is inclusive of an order allowing the child to live with you, with zero time allocation for the other parent.
Factors affecting relocations
The Court considers several things when concerning relocations, including:
- Employment of the person moving: If moving for a job or greater job prospects, this will be viewed as a positive. If the move results in limited job prospects, this is considered a concern to the Court, and they will look at the other factors to support your application. Being able to support yourself and your children financially is essential.
- Education for the child: The Court will consider schooling and extracurricular activities, including opportunities at the new location. If this creates a negative impact, the Court will have concerns.
- Proposal for time spent with the other parent: If the other parent is in contact with the child every other weekend, for example, the Court will need to understand what the new proposal will look like. If you are moving a few hours away, the previous arrangement may be maintained. If moving interstate, the Court will consider the effect this would have on the child concerning a reduction of time with the other parent. The Court will also look at the costs involved of the other parent in seeing the child.
- Proposed living arrangements: The Court will want to know whom you intend to live with (if any), where, the number of bedrooms, and proximity to schools.
- Support systems: It is preferred that you are relocating somewhere with some support, whether that is friend, family, or a new partner. Moving closer to family who can provide support to you and your children is preferred. If relocating for a new partner, the Court will consider the strength of your relationship. Shorter relationships will have lesser value in the Court’s opinion. Some situations mean better parenting if relocated, for example, women fleeing violent partners. Relocating to be closer to family, or further from your former partner, can give you time to heal and recover as positive mental health is vital for quality parenting.
How to determine the best scenario for you
It is vital to obtain legal advice about relocation with a child after a separation before moving. The most significant risk of relocating without legal advice is the potential that the other parent obtains a recovery order. If granted, this order will require the children to be returned to the other partner, typically via the police.
Recovery orders are heard on an urgent basis, and as such, can be heard without you present to respond. The main concern is that the Court may not be aware of any violence or other issues that make the other partner an unsafe person for the children.
In circumstances of violence in which you are urgently fleeing for safety, your safety is paramount. We strongly recommend obtaining legal advice if possible before you leave, to ensure there is no risk of recovery