Relocation cases are determined according to children’s best interests
- Parenting proceedings involving relocation are to be determined in the same manner in which all parenting proceedings are determined. That is, by following the legislative framework set out in the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“the Act”) with a view to determining what orders, if any, are in the best interests of the children.
- In Zahawi & Rayne, the Full Court noted:
47. All applications for parenting orders before the court involve a situation that, axiomatically, is not in the children’s best interests. What is best for children is that their parents co-parent by agreement and without conflict and as selflessly as circumstances reasonably allow. When parents are unable to agree, the parents’ proposals embraced in competing applications involve, again axiomatically, advantages and disadvantages for the children, each and all of which have ramifications for the children’s best interests. Concomitantly, Gummow and Callinan JJ said in U v U:
…The reality is that maternity and paternity always have an impact upon the wishes and mobility of parents: obligations both legal and moral, the latter sometimes lasting a lifetime, restrictive of personal choice and movement have been incurred.
48. “Relocation cases” are no different from other applications for parenting orders in that respect. Like all applications for parenting orders, an application to have the children live with a parent significantly geographically remote from the other parent is to be determined by the children’s best interests. However, the issues in a “relocation case” are, by reason of the proposed geographical separation of parents from their children, often significantly more acute and all the more so in cases of proposed international relocation. And, of course, that same factor will usually render more acute the burden or burdens to be borne by one parent or the other, including restrictions on their freedoms.
- In short, there are no special tests that apply to such cases and each case must therefore be determined on its own facts. While the Full Court noted that, as a result of the consequences of a proposed relocation, the burdens rendered on the parties may be more acute, it is not the case that the party desiring to relocate needs to establish “compelling reasons” for the relocation.
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