The Family Law Act 1975 Commonwealth allows a family law court to determine whether a child can be relocated by a parent or other person to another place away from a parent. Short and reasonable moves where the parents remain close is usually not an issue, although problems may arise if there is a change in school, opportunities for the child or the child's relationships.
When a parent wishes to relocate, they should discuss this with the other parent, as such a move will affect a child or children in many ways. There is no perfect rule about whether relocation should or should not occur, it depends on a range of circumstances which need to be considered in each case. Family lawyers like us can give you legal advice based on the circumstances and the range of decisions a court can make.
When a parent decides to move a child without advising the other parent or against the other parent's wishes, the parent unilaterally relocates the child. If court proceedings are started a court may make interim orders allowing the relocation or the court may order the child return. As such, it is important to try and resolve relocation disputes, so they do not end up in court which can be disruptive for both parents and children.
Relocation and Existing Court Orders
If there are existing parenting orders in place, you must read the court orders to determine if relocation is allowed. It is important that existing court orders are complied with. You can vary court orders through an application to a court or with an agreement in writing with the other parent in most instances.
Relocation and Parenting Arrangements
If parents are able to agree on a relocation, they can enter into a parenting plan or an application for consent orders to solidify parenting arrangements. This can help keep the remote parent and child relationships strong after the relocation.
After a child is relocated it is important that the child maintains a meaningful relationship with the remote parent. Where a remote parent and child do not regularly spend time together in person, it may be appropriate for the child and remote parent to spend more time communicating over the phone or online, spend more time together during the school holidays and on special occasions. It can also help if the parent the child lives with, provides the remote parent with access to or information such as school reports, parent-teacher interviews or events and details of the family doctor and other allied health information.
Parents should utilise technology to bridge the distance. This includes contact between the remote parent and child, the remote parent attending parent-teacher interviews, medical appointments and other important events by video conference. In this day and age, both parents can and should ensure the remote parent can and does maintain active involvement with the children and joint decision making.
Child Relocation Disputes
Where there is no agreement between parents about relocation, you should attempt to resolve a relocation dispute through family dispute resolution and if you cannot resolve the dispute you can proceed to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia to have the matter determined by a Judge.
Contact our family lawyers about how we can help you with a child relocation matter.
More Parenting Options and Information
Having a dispute about children is never easy especially where both parents believe that they are acting in the best interests of the child. There are many options to help parents resolve disputes and help parents come to an agreement which can be found below.
Information about parenting plans to allow parents to reach a written agreement about child arrangements.
Application for Consent Orders to allow parents to receive court orders about child arrangements.
Where parents cannot resolve disputes between them, they can bring proceedings before a court to obtain help to resolve the dispute.
Property settlements can be achieved through alternative dispute resolution, including family law mediation.
When a parent wants to relocate with a child or has already relocated with a child without the other parent's consent.