Moving for work, a new partner, or a new adventure, can all be very exciting and bring with them new possibilities. There’s the new home to rent or purchase, maybe a new work environment, and the chance to meet new people. For separated parents, a move is not that simple. Whether it’s a move across town, across the county, or even across continents, there are so many factors to consider. The considerations vary depending on the parenting arrangement in place for the child.
For example, if the parents have joint decision making responsibilities and equal shared parenting time, it raises questions such as:
- 1. How would decisions regarding the children be made, if the parties reside in different time zones for example?
- 2. Would the children still be able to attend their current school?
- 3. How much travel time would the children have between homes and schools?
- 4. Would pick up and drop off be an issue because it extends one parent’s driving time?
- 5. If the shared parenting schedule is no longer practical because of the move, with whom should the children reside primarily?
- 6. If there are older siblings who do not want to move neighbourhoods, would splitting the children be in their best interest?
- 7. How would the increased cost of exerciting parenting time be apportioned? For example, one parent may need to travel out to exercise parenting time with the children.
- 8. As a whole, is the relocation in the child’s best interest?
The Divorce Act and the Children’s Law Reform Act have set out the mechanism to be followed by parents who wish to relocate.
- 1. The person who intends to redlocate has to provide a minimum of sixty days notice of the proposed move.
- 2. Inforkation about the proposed move such as date of planned move, address, and a parenting plan addressing how decision-making responsibility and parenting time will be exercised
- 3. The recipient of the notice has to respond within thirty days of receiving the notice if they object to the move. They must provide reasons for the objection.
- 4. If there is no objection, or if a court authorizes the move, the person intending to relocate can do so after the date of intended relocation stated in their notice.
- 5. If there is an objection, you cannot relocate the children, until there is an agreement between the parents or the court orders otherwise.
Subject to very few exceptions, such as where there is family violence, a party cannot unilaterally relocate the children.
As with all issues involving children, in deciding whether or not to authorize the relocation, the court must consider the best interest of the child as well as:
- The reasons for the relocation
- The impact the relocation would have on the child
- The amount of paretnitng time each parent spends with the child
- How involved each parent is in the child’s life
- Whether the notice requirements under the law were complied with
- The reasonableness of the proposal of the person who intends to relocate
It is important to note that this rule does not apply to travel with the children. It is only applicable to more permanent moves. Relocation is defined under the Children’s Law Reform Act which applies to both married and non-married persons as:
- “relocation” means a change in residence of a child, or of a person who has decision-making responsibility or parenting time with respect to the child or is an applicant for a parenting order in respect of the child, that is likely to have a significant impact on the child’s relationship with,
- (a) another person who has decision-making responsibility or parenting time with respect to the child or is an applicant for a parenting order in respect of the child, or
- (b) a person who has contact with respect to the child under a contact order;
Some have argued that if you are relocating within a distance that would not have an impact on the child’s relationship with the other parent or any person who has contact, then they do not need to go through the formal notice requirements. However, you must exercise caution and good judgement as compliance with the notice requirements is one of the factors the courts consider when deciding whether or not to authorize a move. A significant impact on the child’s relationship will be interpreted very broadly and the courts would always consider if any move is in a child’s best interest.
If you plan to relocate, book a consultation with AP Lawyers. Our lawyers have extensive experience in this complex area and can help you prepare a compelling relocating parenting plan to ensure your request to relocate is successful. We would ensure your plan is thorough and focused on the best interests of the child,