Mobility cases, or situations where one divorced parent wants to move away from the other parent with their children, are often tricky to decide. However, with modern society becoming more and more mobile, these situations come up pretty often. Perhaps you’re being relocated for work, or you’d like to move back to where your family lives. How do you go about getting permission from the courts to alter your custody arrangement?
The first thing to know is that you should not, under any circumstances, just pick up and move with your child without consulting the courts first. This will look like you’re trying to keep your ex from seeing the children, and most likely the court will order you back and will be less likely to permit the move. Even if it’s an emergency, there are provisions for hearing cases on an emergency basis, so don’t take the risk of moving away without consulting your lawyer and working out an arrangement. Failing agreement, you may need a court order to allow you to move.
As with most issues relating to child custody, the best interests of the children will be a top priority. But how do the courts determine what the children’s best interests are? They’ll look at several factors.
How Far Is the Move?
If you’re moving less than 100 kilometres away – say, from Newmarket to Beaverton – then there shouldn’t be a problem, since it won’t have a major impact on your ex’s ability to see the kids besides a longer drive. Medium-length moves of around 500 kilometres are also often approved, even though transportation gets to be a bigger issue then. Moving across the country, or to another country altogether, is the most difficult situation to figure out, but is not necessarily prohibited.
What Is the Reason for the Move?
You’ll need to be able to present a tangible reason for moving your children away from their other parent. A job offer, specialized medical care, proximity of other family members, or other specific benefits will be helpful. Be as specific as possible, and provide as much documentation as you can, including a written job offer or letters from relatives who live in the new location. Be prepared to describe exactly how the new circumstances will improve your children’s lives.
Do the Children Have a Strong Relationship with the Other Parent?
The courts are very invested in maintaining children’s relationships with both parents. If your ex doesn’t see the kids much, or if the relationship is high-conflict, it may be easier to make your case for moving away. However, if the relationship is a strong and positive one, the judge could be less inclined to allow you to relocate.
Do the Kids Have Siblings Who Are Moving?
In addition to parental relationships, sibling relationships are also deeply important, and the Ontario court system believes in keeping siblings together in most cases. If your family includes other children who are your kids’ step-siblings or half-siblings who would also be moving away, this may weigh the decision in your favour – but if there are siblings in your ex’s household as well, the opposite could be true. It can be a complicated decision.
Do the Children Have a Say in the Move?
If they are old enough, the judge will ask your children how they feel about moving, but they won’t be able to make the final decision. Just as in any other child custody discussion, their opinions will be taken into account with all of the other factors that go into the final ruling.
Will the Move Affect Support Payments?
It might. According to Section 10(2)(b) of the Child Support Guidelines, the amount of child support owed can be reduced due to undue hardship, including increased travel expenses related to seeing the children. If your move results in your ex needing to pay airfare in order to see the kids, the amount of child support they are required to pay may be lowered.
Can My Ex Dispute the Move?
They certainly can, which is why this needs to go through the court system. If the other parent produces compelling evidence that moving away would be a serious disruption to the children’s lives with negative consequences, the court may very well deny your request. As an adult, you are able to move wherever you wish at any time – but you might not be permitted to bring your children with you.
If I Move Away Without First Getting Permission to Do So, What Could Happen?
In most cases, you will be ordered to immediately return with the children. The police may be requested to bring the children back if you do not do so voluntarily and immediately. There may be an exception if you are able to prove that your children are at risk of harm if they are brought back to the other parent but those cases are rare. It is best to get this resolved properly before you move.
Call Galbraith Family Law for Expert Advice
Although long-distance moves are growing more and more common, this is still a situation in which you will want a good lawyer on your side. Legally, you can represent yourself in these matters, but when the potential consequences are this big, it’s better to have legal counsel. Galbraith Family Law is very experienced in matters pertaining to child custody, and we can help you through this process. For a consultation, call (289) 802-2433 in the Newmarket area or (705) 302-1102 in Barrie. You can also send a message through our website.