Relocating children after separation – top tips to maximise success

20-April-2021 Family Law By Simone Green

As the world has become smaller with the ease of international travel (at least pre-pandemic) and people move away to chase opportunities; relationships between people of geographically distant origins, are now commonplace. All is well until they settle in, have children then separate; and one parent wants to move away with the children back to their family or support network. In Family Law, this is known as ‘relocation’ and this is where things get legally complicated.

According to Accredited Specialist Family Lawyer, Simone Green, a ‘relocation’ is considered anything that is a significant distance (more than 90 minutes travel) from the children’s home, which would make it significantly more difficult for the children to maintain a meaningful relationship with the other parent. The move does not even need to be interstate if the other parent can establish that they were previously actively involved in the day-to-day care of the children and the move would impact this. This area of the Family Law is perhaps one of the most challenging and difficult to succeed where the relocation is not agreed.

Unilateral relocation of children by one parent can have expensive and traumatic consequences for the parent who has taken the children. In most cases, the children will be ordered back to the area where they previously lived, at least on an interim basis until the Court can consider all the evidence and make orders where and with whom the children will live a on a final basis. Such orders are made with a view of what is in the best interest of the children which does not always align with what is in the best interest of the parent.

If you are considering moving away with the children, you should urgently seek advice from an Accredited Specialist Family Law Solicitor before leaving, who will be able to provide you with advice as to the next steps.

Simone Green provides the following tips for the parent wishing to relocate:

  • Discuss the proposed move with the other parent earlier rather than later, both verbally and in writing. If agreed, written proof such as an email or text message will assist if the other parent later retracts their consent.
  • Have a well-researched and detailed proposal as to how and when the other parent will spend time with the children; this will increase the chances of obtaining consent. Such proposal should include:
    • Communication by phone or video chat as well as physical time together (if possible).
      • For example, consider how the other parent might continue to be involved in weekend time and school holiday time if mid-week time is not possible.
    • For interstate and international relocation, also consider the financial cost of the travel. Who will pay for the airfares or fuel and the cost of any required accommodation?
    • Consider the practicalities of travel for the other parent and the children. For example:
    • Will the changeover point be halfway if driving? Or how will this be shared, if at all?
    • Will the children require assistance with travel by air? Check the airlines policies regarding unaccompanied minors.
    • Consider what is a reasonable frequency of travel in line with the ages of the children?
  • If no agreement, you will need to attend mediation and make a genuine effort to resolve the dispute before filing an Application in Court to relocate the residence of the children. Mediation is not mandatory in cases of urgency or where not deemed appropriate where family violence is involved, before filing an Application.

Alternatively, if you are the parent affected by the unilateral and non-consensual relocation of the children by the other parent and your time with them will be severely impacted by the move, seek urgent legal advice regarding your options.

Call and speak with our Specialist Family Law team today on 02 8197 0105 and allow us to provide you with advice tailored to your individual needs.

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