Updated: Aug 4
As couples separate and leave the matrimonial home, it is common for spouses to relocate. While navigating parenting time between two households can be complex at any distance, it can be especially difficult when one parent seeks to move a greater distance away, like to another province. This article will highlight key considerations taken by the courts and options that parents seeking to move out of their children's home province have in terms of child custody and parenting time.
How Does a Parent After Divorce Relocate with their Child(ren)?
To move out of the province with a child after a divorce, the relocating parent typically requires consent from the other parent. If the non-relocating parent disagrees, they can apply to the court for an order preventing the relocation. The court evaluates the case based on the abovementioned considerations, prioritizing the child's best interests and deciding accordingly.
Seeking Custody When Relocating: How Does the Court Decide?
Relocation decisions require a delicate balance between the rights and interests of the child's
wellbeing and of both parents. However, in every legal matter concerning children, the children's best interest is the basis of all court decisions. With this in mind, when courts decide on relocation and child custody, the children's best interest takes precedence.
To make the determination as to whether children should relocate with the parent seeking to move provinces, the court will consider various factors, including age, needs, relationships, and the impact of relocation on the child's wellbeing:
1. Reasoning for Relocation
Firstly, the court will evaluate the reasoning for the out-of-province move. If you are seeking a request to relocate with your children, you will be asked to provide valid and genuine reasons for the move. This could be be cause of a new job opportunity, better educational prospects, or improved living conditions. The court will evaluate whether the proposed relocation is motivated by the child's best interests or the parent's personal desires.
2. Child Relationship with Non-Relocating Parent
The court will also examine the impact of relocation on your child's relationship with their other parent. An important consideration in Family law is preserving parents' presence in their children's lives. Thus, a significant factor the court will consider is whether the out-of-province move will unreasonably hinder the non-relocating parent's access to their child or negatively impact their ability to maintain a meaningful presence in their child's life.
Does that mean you could never move significantly to a province on the other side of the country?
Not necessarily. While it is true that Canada is geographically large and out-of-province moves can make consistent travel a complicated hurdle for parenting time, the court may consider alternative arrangements. For instance, the court may approve extended visitation periods to uphold a child's relationship with their non-relocating parent.
3. Child's age and wishes
Depending on their age and maturity, the child's opinion may be considered in relocation cases. The court may give weight to the child's wishes, considering their age, understanding, and ability to express their preferences. For example, a 16-year-old who wishes to stay in the current province may be weighed more heavily than a five-year-old.
4. The financial impact of the move
Another relevant factor the court will examine is the financial toll on both you and the
non-relocating parent. Parents must show they can financially support the child in the new province. The court will also examine the cost of travel for visitation, whether relocation will change your child's financial stability and potential changes in the child's standard of living.
How can you best ensure that the relocation is approved?
The key to ensuring the court views the relocation in the child's best interest is to prepare and plan your move. Given the factors weighed by the court listed above, you, as the relocating parent, must address each factor with reasoning as to why it will result in your child's best interest. We recommend preparing a detailed parenting plan that addresses how the best interest will be upheld with provisions such as travel arrangements; how contact will be maintained with the non-relocating parent. And how communication will be facilitated between your child and both parents.
Relocating with children after a divorce is a matter that requires careful consideration and adherence to legal procedures. The best interests of the child remain the primary concern for Canadian courts and decisions regarding parental relocation are made accordingly. Parents must engage in open communication, prioritize the child's well-being, and, if necessary, seek legal advice to ensure the process is handled in the most appropriate and beneficial manner for all parties involved.