Relocating with a Child After Separation

After separating from a partner you share children with, you will have made parenting arrangements that outline the time you and your partner spend with your children. These arrangements will clearly be altered if you or your former partner decide to move to a different city, state, or country – continuing to move children between parents who live hours away from each other is not practical and it is not necessarily beneficial to the children if this move results in their time with one parent being significantly reduced. Even relocating within the same city can cause issues within parenting arrangements d due to the move’ being deemed impractical and interfering significantly with the other part’s time with the children.. 

 So, what is the process for renegotiating parenting arrangements and what are your rights as a parent? Although we are unable to provide advice on your specific case unless you contact us for a consultation, we can give you a broad idea of what to consider and expect. 

Is the move in the best interest of the child?

Relocating can represent a great opportunity for your career, finances, or social life, but what about the happiness and security of your child? In Australia, custody arrangements centre on the wellbeing of the children involved, not the desires of the parents. Before making the decision to move, you need to consider the impact the move will have on your child’s: 

  • Access to and relationship with their other parent/s 
  • Ability to spend time with important people in their life, including friends and relatives 

 You should also consider the other flow on effects your desired relocation will have on your child, like whether they will need to change schools, swap sporting clubs, and/or establish a new social circle. These things will greatly impact the life of your child, and so your child and their other parent should be included when making the decision to relocate. 

 Ultimately, if relocating will prove more harmful to your child than beneficial, then you may not be able to gain or retain primary care of them if and when you move.   

Making an agreement with the other parent 

If moving will not prove to the detriment of  your child and you still have a good relationship with your co-parent, then you may be able to negotiate a new parenting  arrangement that works for you without needing to go to the Federal Circuit and Family court. You should still consult a family lawyer regarding the decisions made with your former partner though, as a lawyer can provide you with advice and advise you of what your rights are should your child’s parent change their mind regarding the new agreement.  

 If you cannot reach an agreement with your child’s other parent or else do not wish to engage with them without the presence of a third party, then you could benefit from engaging in family dispute resolution. This option is beneficial as it is  usually quicker and less expensive than going to court, the final decision will be made by you rather than a judge, and it can help with communication between yourself and your former partner. Usually in matters involving children, you are required to attend family dispute resolution before you can take your case to court (there are some exceptions to this, including when family violence is involved). You should seek legal advice before engaging with family dispute resolution. 

 If you already have sole parental responsibility then, normally, you don’t need to consult with your child’s other parent before changing your child’s living arrangements. However, there are restrictions in place that may prevent you from taking them overseas and you could be in breach of parenting orders if relocating means that you aren’t able to meet obligations regarding visitation rights for the other parent.  

Court intervention and relocation orders

If you are unable to come to an agreement with your former partner, then you will need to apply to the court for permission to move with your child. In these cases, the details of the final custody arrangements will be decided by a judge. These court decisions can take many months, sometime years in complex cases, and there is no guarantee that the child will be allowed to move. When making the final decision, the court will try balance the best interest of the child with your freedom to move.  

It’s vital that you seek legal advice before making an application to the court as a family lawyer will be able to guide you through the process and give you the greatest chance of success in your application. 

Finding the best outcome with a lawyer

Le Brun and Associates is a leading Melbourne family law firm that can give expert guidance around separation, child residence, and relocation. With our extensive, professional experience, our team is ready to support you. At Le Brun and Associates, we take the time to understand your situation, needs and concerns, before giving our advice on the situation. Our goal is to give you legal advice that helps ease the stressful process of renegotiating child custody arrangements. If you are ready to discuss your individual circumstances, please contact our team of family lawyers in Melbourne today. Contact us today for a complimentary 30-minute consultation. At Le Brun and Associates, you can rely on us as we always stand by you. 

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