It is not uncommon, after going through a separation, for a party to consider moving interstate. This could be for family reasons, to pursue new job opportunities, or to lower the cost of living by moving out of a metropolitan area.
If you have children with your former partner or co-parent, any interstate relocation raises various issues. There are 5 things you should particularly consider when moving interstate in a separated family.
- Communicate early
If you are considering a move interstate, you should communicate this with your co-parent as early as possible. It is more likely you will be able to have cooperative and open dialogue if you are transparent from the get-go, even if your plans do not eventuate. This will enable your co-parent to have time to consider their position and any alternative care arrangements rather than being sprung with the news.
- Obtain consent to relocate
If opportunities arise and your plans to move become more concrete, you should attempt to obtain your co-parent’s consent to relocation. This is particularly if you are the primary carer for the children. Explore options as to how a relocation would work and what alternative arrangements may be made to ensure the other parent can have substantial and significant time with the children (if this is practical).
- Formalise your agreement
If you reach an agreement with your co-parent, you should formalise this by drafting a parenting plan or by applying for fresh Consent Orders (depending on which is more appropriate). A parenting plan is not enforceable but is a more flexible document that can be changed quicker and cheaper than Consent Orders if circumstances are likely to change again in the future or you will be reviewing the arrangement after a trial period.
- Seek legal advice
If you are unable to obtain your co-parent’s consent to relocate, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible. You should engage in family dispute resolution (‘FDR’) with your co-parent (with or without legal representatives) to reach agreement. If FDR is unsuccessful, your lawyer can advise you as to the consequences of relocating without the other parent’s consent, or the prospects of filing an application seeking that the court order the relocation of your children.
- Focus on your children
Ultimately, while you may have your own motivations and desires, the court is primarily focused on what is in your children’s best interests. If the court considers it is not in your children’s best interests to relocate, then it will not make relocation orders. You should therefore always take a child-focused approach and prioritise what is in their best interests. Irrespective of whether you decide to relocate or not, it is always advisable to demonstrate a willingness to foster and promote the relationship between your children and their other parent.
If you or someone you know is considering relocating interstate and there are children involved, then please get in touch Matthew Sibley at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is not legal advice.