When parents separate, often one parent will wish to move away with their children. This can be for a range of reasons including obtaining new employment, to seek support of their family or to live with a new partner.
Relocation matters are becoming increasingly common in the family law courts, however they do not form a discrete subset of cases but rather are determined in accordance with the guiding principle of the law, namely whether it is in the best interests of the children to relocate, which forms the framework of the Family Law Act 1975.
The best interests of children are met by:
- Ensuring that children have the benefit of both of their parents having a meaningful involvement in their lives; and
- Protecting children from physical or psychological harm, from being subjected to or exposed to abuse, neglect or family violence;
- Ensuring that children receive adequate and proper parenting to help them achieve their full potential;
- Ensuring that parents fulfil their duties, and meet their responsibilities concerning the care, welfare and development of their children.
Whilst a meaningful relationship may not equate with equal time or even be considered an optimal relationship, clearly relocating children away from the other parent, may impact on being able to have a meaningful relationship.
Unless parents have parenting orders in place to the contrary, parents are presumed to have equal shared parental responsibility of their children. This means both parents are required to make decisions affecting their children jointly, such as whom they are to live with, what school they may attend and what religion they might follow. Both parents must agree in respect of children relocating as this inevitably affects where they will live and what school they will attend.
Equal shared parental responsibility also means that children should spend either equal time or substantial and significant time with each parent. In this respect, relocating away from one parent may make it impractical for a parent to be able to spend time with their children due to excessive travel, costs and work commitments for instance.
Every parenting case is different and will be determined on its own special facts and circumstances taking into consideration the paramount principle that all decisions made in respect of parenting arrangements are to be made in their best interests.
At Everingham Solomons we have the expertise and experience to assist you with relocation and parenting matters because Helping You is Our Business.
Click here to learn more about Sophie Newham.