Co-parenting is complex and it can be even more complicated when you are faced with the topic of relocation with children. There’s a difference between moving to a new neighbourhood and potentially moving inter-state.
If a move negatively impacts the parenting agreement, the co-parent must agree to the relocation otherwise it requires the permission of the court.
Understanding Parenting Orders and Consent
If both parents can reach a mutual agreement, the process is simpler. In this case, you need to put the agreement in writing for the court to approve a new parenting order.
If your co-parent does not approve of your move, you can take your request to the court. You must have compelling reasons for the relocation and be prepared to fight for the parenting order change. The other parent can attempt to block the move if they believe there are compelling reasons to prevent it from moving forward. Ideally, it’s resolvable between the parents.
If you are simply planning to take a trip abroad with your child, you should provide your co-parent with full details, especially if it interrupts your current agreement. They have to provide written consent for the child to leave Australia, even if it’s only a short holiday.
Factors Influencing Relocation Decisions
The family court aims to make the right decision for the children involved. That is the number one priority – the child’s best interests. That doesn’t mean there aren’t various factors that influence someone to relocate with their children. If you have more family support or greater employment opportunities, relocation often makes sense.
In terms of the child’s best interests, a parent may believe the move is necessary to provide greater access to social environments, family connections, educational opportunities and healthcare. Moving closer to extended family provides children and the parent with increased emotional support, but it can’t be at the expense of the other parental relationship.
Relocation Within the Same State or Territory
Not every relocation is as dramatic as leaving the state or territory. Sometimes, people are relocating within the same area. That doesn’t mean you’re free and clear to do so without consulting your co-parent. Ultimately, any move that impacts your parenting agreement is subject to issues. If you currently live 20 minutes away from your co-parent and plan to move 50 minutes away, you would need to do more of the running around to limit how your move impacts their time.
If your move is a similar distance, you don’t need to worry about legal considerations or consent requirements. It starts getting complicated if your child has to change schools or there are any other changes to their life due to the move. Many parenting orders place a kilometre limit on moves, so as long as you respect that – you don’t need to worry too much.
Interstate Relocation: Legal Procedures and Consent
You need the other parent’s consent to move a long distance, whether it’s the other side of the state or to a different state or territory. If the other parent agrees to approve the move, the court can approve a new parenting order. If not, the case will go to court and they will take several factors into consideration.
The court will consider the family support that comes from a relocation, how it will impact mental health, the financial side of things, family history, and family dynamics. The court will also consider whether the move means a more supportive environment for their cultural or religious identity.
Obtaining Consent from the Other Parent
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t need to go to court at all. But even if the other parent approves, you should make a written agreement and have it approved by the court. Legalising parenting orders is always the best choice to protect everyone’s interests.
The plan should detail the new custody arrangements, visitation schedules, who can make what decisions, and any other relevant information. You can then file this with the court for approval.
It only becomes complicated if the other parent refuses to agree to relocation.
Disagreements and Family Court Intervention
Just as with divorce and property settlement after separation, the best case scenario is two people reaching a mutual agreement. In some cases that’s not possible, and the children’s interests must come first. If you are unable to agree, family court can intervene to make the decision.
The court will hear all of the relevant factors before issuing a decision. Both parties will be given the opportunity to present their evidence and case. The process can be expensive and emotionally draining, so mediation is a worthy first step before heading to court. You should consult a family law expert as early in the process as possible.
Child’s Best Interests in Relocation Cases
Australian Family Law revolves around making decisions that are in the best interests of the children. That is true of any parenting plans and consent orders, including relocation cases. While there are various factors that the court will consider, it will all come down to the decision right for the children.
Relocation Existing and Parenting Arrangements
Relocation can disrupt existing parenting agreements in several ways. The most obvious is visitation – whether the other parent sees the children every weekend or you trade off every three to four days, a move turns everything upside down.
A move that is significant is likely to meet resistance. The other parent wants and deserves a relationship with their children and a big move alters the custody expectations. You can’t move forward without consent and a new parenting order.
The family court can be complicated, regardless of the case. You should always secure an experienced family lawyer to help you navigate the system, it’s the best way to ensure your success. If you are thinking about separating or have recently done so and need Property Settlement Process advice, get in touch with us today. From property pool division and property settlement time limit questions, AJB Stevens can handle your family law property settlement case from start to finish.
As family law experts, we can also help you with parenting plans and consent orders, whether you’re thinking about relocating or not. If you are thinking about relocation or facing a relocation dispute, our team can guide you through the process.