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Paula Phelan is a Family Lawyer with Specialist Accreditation in this area from the Queensland Law Society. She has been a lawyer for 26 years and is the director of Phelan Family Law, a Rockhampton legal firm specialising in Family Law only.

Can I relocate with my child? Parenting arrangements and relocation

Parenting arrangements and relocation

Parenting arrangements and relocation cases are some of the most complex and difficult cases Courts are faced with. These matters are already difficult when a parent relocates within Australia, let alone the issue of a country-to-country relocation.

When a relationship breaks down, many people seek out family support and feel the need to return to their place of origin. Often economic issues are a motivating factor for moving back home with family to allow a separated parent to get back on their feet and sometimes a new love means that a move to another city or town is on the cards.

Relocation cases are parenting cases. The guiding principle is still what is in the best interests of these particular children, having regard to a framework of issues to be considered and set out in the Family Law Act.

Can you or your former partner relocate with your child?

If you do not have a parenting order in place, it is possible the other parent can relocate with your children.

If the children are moved from the place they usually live to another, making it hard to see them and it results in reduced time with them, you may make an application to the Family Court for the return of the children to their original place of residence.

This is an interim order pending the court’s decision about which parent they should live with on a long-term basis.

Unilateral action is usually frowned upon by the court, so it is best to get advice before relocating. If there are Court orders in place which determine where your children live and how much time they spend with both parents, then relocating can be far more difficult.

A relocation without the other parent’s agreement is likely to put you in immediate breach of orders for equal shared parental responsibility and also orders that provide for children to spend time with their other parent. It can also have the effect of reducing the other parent’s ability to participate in sport, extracurricular activities and school-based activities.

The process of wanting to relocate can be difficult when parenting arrangements have been in place for some time. Especially if the children live in an equal shared care arrangement. There are many factors that will need to be taken into consideration, these include the children’s age, their views, schooling and sports commitments.

However the most important consideration is their relationship with their other parent.

In my next article, we will look at the legal steps you will need to make to bring a relocation application.


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