Offices in Pakenham, Yarra Junction, Berwick and Drouin

Relocation of children after separation

In family law disputes involving children it is essential to have formal parenting arrangements because In today’s modern world, things change and some parents may seek to renege on informal or in some instances even formal agreements.

  • A parent may feel like they need a fresh start in a new location;
  • A parent may want to move to a place where they have more family support or assistance;
  • A parent might be offered a better job or promotion,
  • A parent may eventually re-partner and that new partner might get a job somewhere else or need to live somewhere else closer to their children;
  • A partner may eventually get a new spouse. Their new partner might live somewhere else (especially in this age of internet dating);
  • They may want to move back to the place they are originally from or closer to family
  • They might be offered a promotion or new job in another area.

The best time to get your former partner to agree to a clause preventing them from relocating is before their circumstances change and they start thinking about it. They will usually be happy to agree to having Orders containing a clause preventing them from relocating if they do not intend to move anywhere else. If you are on friendly terms, then it should be easy to get your agreement into Consent Orders or final Orders. If you have Consent Orders including a relocation clause then everyone knows where they stand. If your former spouse does not want to have Consent Orders or Final Orders including a Relocation Clause, then you have to ask why not – are they hiding something or hedging their bets to keep options open for the future.

Parents who are separated but have been able to remain on the friendliest of terms, will still look after themselves first and may elect not to tell you something they know you won’t agree with, if they can get away with it, or may just be intent on deciding to move away even though they know the other parent won’t think that is best for the Child or their relationship with the other child.

The Family Court (Family Court) or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia (FCCA) has the power to Order where a Child may live. Generally, the Court cannot prevent a parent from relocating to live somewhere else, however the Court has the power to stop a parent from taking their child to live with them in the that new locality, if that area will be some distance away from the other parent and interfere with the amount of time spent with the other parent or results in the other parent having a meaningful relationship with their Child.

This issue can arise on many occasions, either if a parent says they want to move away, but may also arise if the parent simply just moves away without either notifying the other parent, or perhaps does tell them, but moves away with the Child against the other Parent’s wishes. If this was to happen then a recovery order would have to be sought as a matter of urgency.

Accordingly an order at the onset of the breakdown of the relationship can also prevent such conduct but often there will be some sort of informal agreement with your former partner for parenting arrangements and you don’t want to agitate the other parent angry by trying to put your parenting arrangements in writing, or make it official and binding by putting it into Consent Orders made by the Court. If you are the parent who doesn’t have your child living with you most of the time, you may have a niggling concern about the other parent taking their child to live with them somewhere else in the country or even overseas.

Simply doing a Parenting Plan (or any document other than Consent Orders) containing a clause preventing relocation will not be sufficient to protect you. Should you have any questions then please visit our website at www.mepsteadlawyersandberwicklegal.com.au or contact or office.

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