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Relocation with Children

Following separation there are a number of ways to come to arrangements for the joint parenting of the children. 

1. “The Sensible Handshake” where both parties agree to parenting arrangements and there is no formal documentation; 

2. A Parenting Plan – a document that often comes out of counselling or mediation. It is a document that is evidence of what parents agreed but is non-enforceable. 

3. Court Orders – consent orders or orders that a Court imposes on the parties. This is for those who are unable to reach agreement and require the enforceability of Court ordered arrangements.  

These arrangements can be thrown into disarray when one party wants to relocate the children to another town, city or location. 

This may be for a number of reasons. The person may want to move where their parents or family live in order to receive assistance with the care of the children. It could be that they can’t find employment where they are currently living or that they have found a new partner and want to start a new life elsewhere. 

The law provides that relocation of children is fundamentally about the rights of the children involved. Many parents think it is about their rights to move elsewhere. This is not the case. 

A court will look at the relocation from the perspective of “how does this relocation impact the rights of the child or children, to have a meaningful relationship with both parents?” 

The younger the children, the less likely permission to relocate will be given, unless there is a major disqualifying factor about why one parent shouldn’t spend time with the children.  

What is key is the ability for parent-child bonding to occur and for the child to have frequent, regular time with both parents. When a child is older, relocation may be an option because they have already bonded with both parents and have an established relationship, which can be maintained despite distance. 

Can children be relocated, even if I don’t consent? 

If relocation is being disputed between parents, the Court’s role is to weigh up the potential negative impact on the relationship between the child and the parent remaining. 

If, for example, the children are to leave with the mother and the father is hands-on and takes the children to sport two afternoons a week and has them for four nights a fortnight; relocation could cause damage to that bond. The Court will also consider the impact of the move to the child’s social network – their peer relations and family support. 

Because the Court assesses the impact on the relationship for the child, the relocation doesn’t need to be an interstate or international relocation. A relocation as short-ranged as Rockhampton to Gladstone could be enough to alter the current routine and connection and be deemed as a negative impact on the child. 


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