I often get asked by parents how to deal with the children when one parent wants to move to a different jurisdiction with the children. Many parents think it is okay if they have day to day care that they can simply make all of the decisions including that the child or children will just go with them. This is not true.
In any relocation with a child both parties have equal rights to the parenting of a child. It is not the case that one party, even if they have day to day care, can simply up and relocate with the child without either a court order or agreement by the other party. In cases where the parents have equal parenting time it is even more problematic for a person to just up and leave with the child without either an order or agreement. In all circumstances the court will only make decisions in the best interests of the child and it is always in the best interests of the child to have maximum contact with both parents. That does not mean equal. It depends on the circumstances. If one party lives in a different jurisdiction then depending on how far away that jurisdiction is will determine what maximum contact looks like. If one party has an irregular work schedule that too will be a consideration of what maximum contact looks like.
What happens if one party leaves with little notice to the other or during some objection from the other parent?
In those cases an application can be brought, even after the relocation, to have the court determine what is in the best interests of the child.
In every case the court is not impressed with one party just leaving with the child and thinking that now that the relocation has happened the other parent cannot do anything. The court very well could order the return of the children.
Adults of course are free to move around the country as they wish but NOT with the children.
What are your strategies for mobility then?
My strategies for mobility always start with what the original parenting plan is, and what the new proposed parenting plan should look like.
It doesn’t matter if you didn’t have a formal agreement or order either. If you and your ex have worked out a plan that works even without a court order or written agreement, you still can bring the application as there has been a change in the “status quo”.
What should I do if I my ex has relocated our children against my wishes and without a court order?
Seek legal advice immediately to deal with the matter so that time does not tick by for months and months. If that happens the court will likely take the position that you have acquiesced to the move (accepted it) and will not interfere. You must deal with it as soon as it comes to your attention.
What if I’m the parent that wishes to relocate with the children? Does the same process apply to me? Yes.
If the other party objects, make the application quickly before the move so that you won’t be put in a position where you have relocated and the court orders the return of the children.
Remember, BOTH parents have the SAME rights when it comes to the children. Neither party can trump the other’s rights, even if one party has minimal parenting time.
This also applies to parents that already have relocated and wish to move further away with the children. Again, it is not the case that they can just relocate again. Both parents need to be in agreement or a court order is necessary.