Relocation Issues

Sometimes when parents are separated or divorced, they live close, and the children can spend a lot of time with each parent. What happens when one parent wants to move away with the children? What if you’re now married to someone who gets transferred out of state and you want to move with them and take your children, but the other parent says no?

In most cases, you must file an application with the court asking the court’s permission to move with your children. The court will schedule a motion to argue about the best interests of the children. The “best interests” is the bottom line in deciding whether the children are allowed to move.

The court can’t tell you that you can’t move; as an adult you have the right to live wherever you want. However, the court can say the children will stay.

There are many factors a court looks at in deciding the issues of mobility. However, as a practical matter, normally three considerations are most important. First, the court looks at whether your life and the lives of the children will improve substantially — if you would be able to get a better job, or live in a better neighborhood, or take better care of your children’s health. The parent who wants to move will have to prove to the court how the children will be better off. This can include such things as a stronger support system for you, for example if you’re moving home to be around family, or you may have to show how moving to accommodate a spouse’s job will benefit the children specifically.

The second thing the court will look at is why you want to move (although technically the legal test limits when this should be considered). If you want to move just to take your children away from the other parent, the court will not allow it. If the non-custodial parent says you can’t move because they don’t want to lose a close relationship with the child, the court will consider that very carefully. This depends on what kind of relationship that parent and child had before the hearing. If you have a week on/week off visitation arrangement, then the child will lose 15 days a month with the non-custodial parent. That is a significant amount of time. If the non-custodial parent only sees the child a day every other month or so, it wouldn’t make as large a difference in the children’s lives.

You need solid reasons to move, not just speculative ones. “Because there are lots of jobs in Toronto” is too speculative. You need to provide the court with detailed information about where you will live, where the children will go to school, and what is available in the community for the children. You should have proof of work in the new area for yourself, or for your new spouse, if that is the case. If you want to return to a place where most of your family is, you need to have a list of who lives there and why it’s important for you to have the support of family and friends close by.

The third thing the court will examine is the feasibility of various access plans with the non-custodial parent. For example, normally, if the children are permitted to move away, the non-custodial parent will get extended summer and vacation access. As well, the issue of paying for the children traveling will need to be dealt with. By Barbara Locke.

Other Articles about Child Custody

  • Common Child Custody Concerns – Perhaps the biggest thing that parents fear with regard to the issue of child custody is the possibility of having their children testifying in court.
  • Child Custody Assessments – A child custody assessment is an investigation by a psychologist, psychiatrist or social worker.
  • Age of Child and Custody – One of the most common questions parents ask is at what age can their children choose the custody and access arrangements.
  • Making Visitation Easier On the Children – Here are some ways to try and ease the visitation process and make it a little less painful for the kids.
  • Divorce and Relocating Children – Even if you have sole custody of your children you still must obtain the permission of the other parent before moving.
  • Joint Custody – “Joint custody” means that both parents have the right to make these decisions for their children.
  • Avoiding Summer Visitation Problems – When summer is coming, divorced and separated parents frequently run into problems with their custody and visitation situations during vacation periods.
  • Relocation Issues – What happens when one parent wants to move away with the children?

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