One of the most contentious issues in family law arises when one parent wishes to relocate with their children, and the other parent is opposed. Courts favour the status quo (what the children are used to), and in the absence of compelling evidence, will prefer it continue as long as it appears to be working well for the children. The parent seeking to relocate will need to show the move will be beneficial to the children beyond mere speculation.
According to the Supreme Court of Canada, a judge deciding a mobility application must consider the following 7 factors:
- The existing custody arrangement and relationships between the children and the custodial parent;
- The existing access arrangement and relationships between the children and the access parent;
- The desirability of maximizing contact between the children and both parents;
- The views of the children;
- The custodial parent’s reason for moving and if it is relevant to that parent’s ability to meet the needs of the children;
- Disruption to the children due to change in custody; and
- Disruption to the children due to removal from family, schools, and the community they know.
It is also recommended the parent seeking to move show evidence of the following considerations, among others:
- How to include the other parent in the lives of the children once the move is made;
- Which new schools the children will attend, along with details about programs offered and why those schools may be better than others;
- What extracurricular activities the children will participate in;
- What childcare arrangements the moving parent will be using (assuming they will not be a stay at home parent);
- The support network of family and friends in the new area;
- If the purpose of the move is to be closer to a new spouse or partner;
- The cost of living under the new circumstances and a financial plan showing ability to maintain support payments (if applicable); and
- Whether the employment is available at the new location. An employment offer is more substantive than promising to search for work.
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