In a previous blog “Family Disputes – Parenting Responsibilities” we mentioned the obligations of parents to act in the best interests of the children and not the parents themselves.
As lawyers, we have often had to caution clients wanting to relocate the children to another geographical area, about the prospect that the other parent could obtain a “relocation order” requiring them to come back again. Such an order might be sought because the proposed move might mean disruption for the children and might be seen to suit the parent’s needs more than the needs of the children.
Two recent Court decisions suggest that there are times when a Court will look at the parent’s own needs as well.
In one of those cases, the mother worked with the Australian Defence Force and was posted in her job to another state. The Court recognised the mother’s right to pursue her ADF career, to “live wherever she wished” and not be forced to abandon her career altogether due to an inability to relocate. Even though the Family Report writer said it would “diminish” the 4-year-old child’s relationship with her father, that was less potentially damaging to the child than the mother losing her career.
In the other case, the mother was allowed to relocate overseas with the 11 and 12 year-old daughters and her new partner for 2-4 years. The resulting arrangement reduced face-to-face contact with the girls’ father, a central issue in the dispute. Even though the Court recognised that these matters “are the axioms upon which the vast majority of so-called ‘relocation cases’ proceed” the Court recognised the views of these “relatively mature” children who wanted the relocation to go ahead.
These cases might seem to go against the mainstream, but they recognise there are times when a relocation can permitted, if it can be justified as being in the best interests of the children on the whole. If you find yourself in these circumstances, it is important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced family law solicitor. Andrea Hohn, family law solicitor of CLO Lawyers, will empathise with your situation and will take the time to understand your unique circumstances, give you realistic options and deliver cost-effective solutions.