After a separation, it is not unusual for one parent to be allocated control of a child, with visitation rights given to the other. These arrangements are carefully worked out, sometimes through consent but at other times through a court order. A lot of information is considered at the time and based on current circumstances. However, life can be unpredictable and sometimes these circumstances change. If your "ex" now wants to move across the country with the offspring, but you're not so sure, what can the court do to help you?
What Is Considered?
If there can be no mutual agreement, then a family court can step in to make what are known as "relocation orders" for such a movement. These are not automatically granted, however, and a lot of different circumstances will be taken into account before any order is made. It is certainly not okay simply to move anyway, especially where earlier orders are still in force.
The court will want to be sure that any relocation does not adversely affect the child's ongoing relationship with the parent left behind. Invariably, this means that the best interests of the child are front and centre. It's not unheard of for a court to refuse the relocation altogether.
Usually, a court will go through an ordered list to assess each situation, step-by-step. In the beginning, as mentioned, the best interests of the youngster will be taken into account. However, this is rarely the only consideration. Next, the court will consider what the parents actually want to happen, from each side of the equation. Thirdly, how will the long-term relationship of the child with each parent be affected by a relocation move. What will the immediate and long-term repercussions be? Finally, after taking all these factors into consideration, the court will rule. It's not unheard of for them to come up with a completely different proposal, over and above what each parent actually wants to happen.
What Happens If a Move Has Already Been Made?
There is always a risk that one parent will make a unilateral decision and move before a court has considered any relocation orders. If such a move takes place within Australia, then a recovery order can be raised to bring them back to the point of origin, before relocation orders are then considered. If you think there's a risk that they may be taken out of the country, they should be placed on a special, "Federal police family law watchlist," which means they will not be able to pass an international border.
To make sure that you present your case as forcefully as possible, get assistance from a family lawyer before you proceed.