Often clients will come to see us if they are thinking about relocating away from where they are currently living and taking the children with them. On the flip side, clients will also come to see us if the other parent is thinking about relocating and taking the children, and our client wants to stop that from happening.

Whether or not an actual relocation order from the courts is required, depends on the meaning of a “relocation”.

If one party is planning on moving interstate or overseas, then it becomes fairly obvious that a relocation order is necessary if both parties cannot come to an agreement. But what if you just want to move 40 minutes away? In that situation it would depend on the individual circumstances of the case, and how much it would disrupt the children’s routine. The answer to this often determines whether or not a relocation order should be applied for. The court’s overriding concern is always for the children and what is in their best interests.

When an application for relocation is made to the courts, the courts will usually consider the following:

  • How old the children are;
  • Whether the children have developed a full relationship with each parent and will the parent left behind still have a meaningful involvement in the children’s lives;
  • Why does one party want to relocate? For example, do they have better job opportunities in their new location, or do they have a better family support system in the new location;
  • What is the party who intends to move away willing to do to facilitate the person being left behind having a close relationship with the children;
  • How will the children travel and who will pay for such travel; and,
  • Were the children spending time with other extended family members who are significant to their care.

This is only a small sample of the questions the courts will want answers to if a relocation order is sought, but it is a good starting position.

On a final note, I am aware that some people do not apply for relocation orders, thinking that it is easiest to move interstate or overseas first and deal with the consequences later. I would strongly advise against this as a court can make an order for recovery of the children, notwithstanding that there may have been significant expense involved in relocating in the first case.

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