British Columbia residents may be interested in some of the considerations that courts make when deciding whether one parent can relocate with a child, away from the other parent. Competing judicial interests make these relocation decisions difficult to predict.
When parents divorce, there are often issues with both parents trying to maintain a relationship with children after the split. If the child lives with one parent, visitation rights are important in keeping that close parenting relationship with the non-custodial parent. However, if the custodial parent wishes to relocate, this can require the approval of the courts. Though courts attempt to decide these issues based on what is in the best interests of the child, sometimes predicting the outcome can be difficult.
This is because there are so many variables when it comes to relocation decision making. Judges and jurisdictions each have their own views on how to resolve relocation issues, and the particular facts of each case can be a decisive factor. One seminal Supreme Court decision, however, holds some guidance. The court used seven factors in deciding a relocation case. Some of these factors include the existing custody and access agreement between the parents and child, the child’s views on the relocation and the importance of keeping the child together with the non-custodial parent. The judicial system must balance somewhere between the need for a child to keep a relationship with both parents and the ability for one parent to move freely to seek a better life.
Understanding the law regarding living arrangements and other child custody issues can be difficult without the help of a family lawyer. The lawyer may be able to counsel a parent on the best course of action with regard to relocation, visitation rights and parenting time.
Source: The Canadian Bar Association, “Breaking away”, Pablo Fuchs, December 16, 2014
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