Often separated parents find themselves in a situation where one
of them wants to move to another city, state or even country after
they separate. This is what's called relocation in family
Parents often enter into parenting orders after they
separate. All is going well for a time and then the parent,
with whom the child lives, decides that they would like to move
interstate and they want to take the child with them.
The move will, because of the distance, make it more difficult
for the other parent to spend time with, and be a part of their
child's life. The parent who wants to move should not
just pack up and go they need to discuss it with the other parent
What should you do first?
You should approach the other parent with a proposal of how they
will be able to spend time with their child despite the
distance. You can, for example, offer the other parent longer
blocks of time over holidays with the child, offer to cover the
child's costs of visiting them and the like.
If we reach agreement what should we do?
You should either enter into a parenting plan or new Orders
before you move.
What if we cannot reach agreement?
If you cannot agree on new arrangements the only alternative is
to approach a court for permission to go. If you are the
parent staying behind you can approach the court for an order to
stop the other parent relocating with the children. You need
to act quickly in such a case to try avoid them moving.
How will the court decide?
The court is always going to look at what is in the best
interests of the child before agreeing to the parent moving.
The court will not always grant permission. They will weigh
up the competing proposals of mum and dad and see which one is in
the child's best interests.
In a recent case the mother wanted to move interstate to
Victoria with her 6 ˝ year old daughter to care for her
mother who was terminally ill. In that case the court allowed
the mother to move after considering:
The effect on the mother if she was not allowed to move;
The ability of the child to maintain a relationship with both
her father and her paternal grandmother even if she moved;
The desirability of the child developing a closer relationship
with her maternal grandmother (she already enjoyed a close
relationship with her paternal grandmother);
That the mother had a job lined up in Victoria and no
employment in Sydney;
The mother's need to have emotional support from her family
in Victoria given the feelings of loneliness and isolation she
experienced in Sydney;
The father's concern about a permanent relocation, the fact
that he could not move to Victoria and that he would not see his
child every alternate weekend but rather mainly blocks of time in
the holidays and
The court found that the 6 ˝ year old would be able to
maintain a close relationship with her father even if she only saw
him for extended times over school holidays. Considering all
the issues the court found that it was in the child's best
interests to live with her mother and that they would be able to
You should obtain legal advice before you pack your bags.
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The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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