Mobility issues arise where one parent, often the custodial parent, wants to move to a new location with the child. In some cases, the other parent is agreeable to the move. However, in most cases, the other parent does not consent to the relocation and the parent wishing to relocate must apply to court for an order allowing the relocation.
The leading authority on the issue of relocation set out a two-step test to be considered by the court on a relocation application:
- The applicant must meet the threshold requirement of demonstrating a material change in the circumstances affecting the child.
- If the threshold is met, the applicant must establish that the proposed move is in the best interests of the child, given all the relevant circumstances for the child’s needs and the ability of the respective parents to satisfy them.
The threshold requirement of a material change is often met merely by the proposed move itself. To determine whether the proposed move is in the child’s best interests, the factors set out by the court include:
- existing custody arrangement and relationship between the child and the custodial parent;
- existing access arrangement and the relationship between the child and the access parent;
- desirability of maximizing contact between the child and both parents;
- views of the child;
- custodial parent’s reason for moving, only in the exceptional case where it is relevant to that parent’s ability to meet the needs of the child;
- disruption to the child of a change in custody;
- disruption to the child consequent on removal from family, schools, and the community he or she has come to know.
The application of the above factors is not always straightforward and the unique circumstances in each case must be considered. At Lindsay Kenney, we have experience dealing with relocation issues and would be happy to discuss your particular circumstances with you.