The realities of relocation: Messages from judicial decisions

This article examines relocation decisions in Australia since the law changed in July 2006 to place a greater emphasis on the importance of involving both parents in the lives of children. The analysis of these 58 relocation cases indicates that it is harder for a primary caregiver to relocate than before the 2006 amendments. In a number of the cases where a relocation was allowed, an order was also made for sole parental responsibility. It is harder to justify an international relocation than one within Australia. The cases demonstrate the importance of lawyers and mediators helping parents to reality test the costs and benefits of a proposed relocation, and also to give realistic advice to a parent who wants to oppose a relocation. Issues for parents wanting to relocate include the risks of residential mobility, the costs and burden of the children's travel, and the option for a new partner to relocate rather than the primary caregiver. Issues for parents opposing a relocation include whether there would there be a significant diminution in the quality of the relationship between the parent and child if the relocation occurred, whether there might be evidence of a history of violence, and whether it is reasonable and practicable for that parent to relocate also. These ought also to be issues considered in other jurisdictions.
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