Mobility (Relocations)

WHEN IT’S TIME TO MOVE WITH A CHILD, WE CAN HELP.

Employment changes or other changes in life can result in consideration of relocation. When children are involved, that may result in the necessity of a Court Application, asking the Court to grant permission for the move.

When one parent seeks a significant relocation with a child, and in so doing is required to put the matter before the Court in a mobility application.

Alberta Courts seem unsettled as to the extent to which, if at all, the “best interests of the child” take precedence over any other factor(s). It is decided literally on a case-by-case basis notwithstanding abundant case law on the subject; so preparedness, and putting the best case forward is vital to your success. You will be expected to offer justification why a move with children shall advance their social, financial and residential circumstances – in addition to your own prospects. Remember, there is no initial assumption by the Court that a move that is in the best interests of a parent is necessarily in the best interests of any child. The burden of proof is on the party that desires to move; not the opposed party to show why the move should not happen.

HOW DO I SHOW THAT THE MOVE IS IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF MY CHILD?

Given that the “best interests of the child” test can only be adequately evaluated with reference to the status quo, the custody and access regime existing prior to any relocation is highly relevant. Maximizing and sustaining contact between the children and both parents is a paramount concern of the Court.

A disinterested access parent who sees their children sporadically may be confronted with more challenges in restricting the other parent's moving with the children, than one whose access to the children has been substantial, meaningful and consistent.

Additionally, one could see how the status quo might be deemed to be marginally impacted with a local move, as compared to an international move.

In the event that a parenting arrangement has already been (a) the subject of mediation and resolved by way of a formal Contract or (b) granted by way of a Court Order or Divorce Judgment, these formal arrangements traditionally prescribe that each parent must provide significant notice to the other of any planned relocation. This notice would then permit the other parent to take whatever steps necessary to preserve their rights.

In short, decisions requiring a major move require much advance work on your part, and we are here to here with the entire process.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT? WHAT WILL A JUDGE LOOK AT?

What kind of evidence should you be prepared to offer about your planned relocation with your children? Everything and anything you can.

Courts may expect particulars such as:

  • Employment Opportunities/Income.
  • Residence.
  • School in place.
  • Childcare arrangements.
  • Amenities.
  • Support System and Extended Family.
  • Wishes of the children.
  • Psychological Assessment, in some cases.

REMEMBER GOODWILL AND NEGOTIATE WHEN POSSIBLE TO SAVE BOTH TIME AND MONEY.

Where permission to leave with children is granted by the Court, one can reasonably expect the stay-behind parent to be granted certain benefits. For negotiation, if the matter of mobility appears to be potentially negotiable, the relocating parent should consider extending some goodwill in return.

Depending on the status quo parenting regime and the ease with which it can be facilitated, a Court will generally see fit to maximize access to the stay-behind parent which could foreseeably involve generous and extended holiday visitation.

Also, where a move with children would contemplate the increased access and transportation costs of the stay-behind parent, the Court may formalistically, or perhaps in a less strict fashion, determine that child support payable by the stay-behind parent should be reduced.

If you fail to make your case accordingly, you do so at the peril of any proposed mobility application. At GDE FAMILY LAW, we have countless years of experience with mobility applications; and will work to ensure your desired outcome is achieved in a quick and cost-effective manner.

HIRE A FAMILY LAW LAWYER BEFORE CONTEMPLATING RELOCATION.

Unless you already have clear written permission from the other party beforehand, ideally, in the form of a Court Order, it is strongly recommended that you hire a Family Law Lawyer before you take any legal action or begin your move. When the lives of your children, and the connection you will have with them, are at stake, you cannot afford to take any risks or missteps with child mobility.

Every divorce and child custody case is different, and will differ in terms of the Orders that will be needed to enable child mobility. It is vital to fully comprehend your rights and obligations. For instance, your current Child Custody Order could include a “police enforcement clause”. This means that, if you move without permission, the police can facilitate the children’s move back, if you are not willing to cooperate. You certainly do not want to put your children through that distress, especially if unnecessarily so.

Before you make any moves, it is best to have your Child Custody Contract or Order amended, or a new Order put into place, which accommodates your relocation. This will provide you with legal protection; and will establish that your children’s best interests are being preserved notwithstanding their change in circumstances. This will also reduce the risk that you will face any legal battles in the future. When taking these necessary legal steps, consult with GDE FAMILY LAW, where a Family Law Lawyer with considerable experience and expertise in the area of mobility applications.

At GDE FAMILY LAW, we will ensure that the best possible case is put forward before the Court, if necessary, to safeguard your position and confirm that the best interests of the children are being met in the proposed move. To begin the process for a mobility application, time is really of the essence. Contact GDE FAMILY LAW today to book a consultation to review your options.