Family Law Relocation of Children

Relocating with your child requires the consent of the other parent or an Order of the Court.

Relocating the residence of your child can be difficult where your former partner is opposed to it.

Our Specialist Family Lawyers can assist you to make a case for the relocation of your children and resist your former spouse forcing you to return.

How We Help

If your ex goes to Court, unless you can establish a strong basis for your move, the Court will generally make an Order for you to return with your child. Our Parenting and Relocation Lawyers will guide you before, during or after your move to give you the best opportunity to make your move permanent.

Where your ex opposes your relocation with the children, they will usually make an urgent Court Application for you and the children to immediately return to the usual place of residence.

Our expert Family Lawyers have helped many people to successfully relocate with their children after separation. We can assist you to understand the do’s and dont’s of your situation and assist you to have a very strong argument that persuades the Court that you don’t have to return immediately and, if your ex continues to argue their case, that you should not have to return permanently.

We strongly recommend that you obtain our advice at a Smart Start Appointment about your proposed location before discussing it with your ex.

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Reasons for Relocating

You may have many valid reasons for wanting to move with your child away from the usual place of residence after separation. You may need the support of your friends and family who live elsewhere, there may be better job opportunities in the new location, or you want to be closer to your new partner.

Where you and/or your child have suffered domestic abuse (including coercive control) from your ex-partner, moving away and withholding your location may be essential to yours and your child’s safety.

The most common reasons put forward in support of a parent wanting to relocate with a child include:
  • Financial benefits

  • Occupational benefits

  • Academic benefits

  • Family support

  • New partner’s employment

  • New partner’s location

  • Homesick (want to return home as unable to settle in new location)

  • Cultural

  • Religious

  • Mental health

Relocation Agreements & Mediation

As relocation cases involve sensitive issues, negotiations are best undertaken with an experienced and persuasive Family Lawyer with expertise in relocation cases. Often, due to their complex nature, Mediation is also required.

What if we Can’t Reach an Agreement?

If you are unable to agree, even after attempting Mediation, we can assist you to file an Application with the Court seeking Orders which allow you to relocate the residence of your child/ren.

As relocation cases are one of the most difficult matters for Family Courts, it is essential that you engage an experienced Family Lawyer to prepare your case as early in the process as possible. This will maximise the likelihood of success of your Application whether that be to relocate with the children, or restrain the other party from doing so.

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Relocation Applications

If you can’t reach an agreement to relocate you should discuss with your Specialist Family Lawyer whether you should make an Application to the Court for permission to relocate before you move.

The Family Court is required to consider the best interests of your child in determining whether you can remain in the new location and, in doing so, the Court must weigh the reasons for your move against your child’s entitlement to continue a meaningful relationship with their other parent. This decision comes down to many finely-balanced considerations that together are the basis of the Court’s decision for the relocation to be allowed or not.

If you relate without a Relocation Order, the other parent will usually make an urgent Recovery Application for your child to return to the usual place of residence, with the dispute about whether you are permitted to relocate with the child on a permanent basis to be decided after the return of the child and at a later date after evidence from a psychologist and other experts has been obtained.

As with all Parenting Orders, the Court has to consider the best interests of the child as the paramount consideration. The two (2) most important considerations are the benefit of the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents and the need to protect the child from family violence or harm.

Resisting a Recovery Application

Where your ex makes a Court Application for you and the children to return, the case is generally made up of two (2) parts:

  1. The urgent Application seeking that you return immediately, and
  2. The final Application seeking that you stay in the usual place of residence on a permanent basis (until the child reaches 18 years).

The Court will make Orders requiring you to return on an interim basis unless you have compelling evidence that it is in the best interests of your child for them to remain in the new location.

If you can persuade the Court that your child should stay in the new location until the final Application is heard, then you are more likely to be permitted to remain in the new location on a permanent basis. This has the added advantage that you can deal with the Court proceedings from your preferred location, where you may have family support, rather than having to spend a year or more engaged in Court proceedings from the place where you don’t want to be.

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Frequently Asked Questions

When can I relocate with my child without causing a problem with my ex?

If you are moving to the neighbouring suburb and can continue to facilitate the same time arrangement between your child and the other parent, then there is no basis for the other parent to oppose your move.

Why can’t I relocate with my child?

Unless the other parent of your child/ren agrees to you relocating with them, you cannot make changes to your child’s living arrangements that make it significantly more difficult for them to spend time with the other parent.

Therefore, you can relocate the child’s residence to a different house, but not such a distance away from your current house that it will be significantly more difficult for the child/ren to spend time with the other parent. In practice, this means that it is likely to be acceptable for you to move the child/ren’s residence to the next suburb, but not more than about 30 minutes away from your current home.

Please note the relevant residence is that of the child and not of you. Therefore, you can move as far away as you want, but not with the children, unless the other parent consents. If you choose to move far away from the child/ren, their time with you is likely to be limited due to the distance.

Are interstate/overseas relocations ever allowed?

Moving a child’s residence (with your own change of residence), particularly interstate or overseas, can have the effect of reducing the child’s time with the other parent so significantly that they cannot enjoy the benefit of a meaningful relationship with that parent. Whether or not you are permitted to do so is determined in the child’s best interests and the outcome is dependent on the circumstances of each case.

Factors including a parent’s need to return to their native country for family support or increased work opportunities in the proposed new location can be circumstances that are sufficient for relocation to be approved by a Court, however, this is usually on the basis that a meaningful relationship can be continued with the other parent through additional holiday time and frequent communications.