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Relocation of Children – an update

Karina Ralston

Often, upon separation, as a consequence of isolation from family and friends, financial burdens or family violence, one party wishes to move away with the children of the relationship to gain a fresh start.

These cases are some of the most difficult cases that a court needs to determine. Whilst a court does not have jurisdiction to determine where an adult lives, it does have jurisdiction to determine where a child may reside. In those circumstances they can order the child to live with a particular parent, or to reside in a particular area.

In the recent case of Sadberry & Jablon, the Full Court of Family Court determined that a child was to return to live in the area where the mother used to live, and the child was to begin to spend time with the father for an hour each Saturday and Sunday.

This was in circumstances where the mother had unilaterally relocated to Queensland, from Central New South Wales, without the father’s knowledge or consent. The father, at this time, had no relationship with the child. The Court determined that it would be in the child’s best interest to develop a meaningful relationship with the father, and that could not be done if the child continued to live in Queensland. Therefore, the mother was required to return with the child to Central New South Wales and Orders were made for the child to spend some time with the father on a gradual basis.

There is no clear authority on how relocation matters are to be decided however the Court emphasises that it is in the child’s best interest to develop a meaningful relationship with both parents. It is therefore important that you obtain legal advice prior to re-location, to ensure that your case is presented in a way most likely to assist you.

For further assistance, or if you have a query relating to any of the information in this piece, please don't hesitate to get in touch with Coleman Greig's Family Law team today: