When Do the Interests of a Parent Override the Interests of a Child in Separation Disputes?

29 June 2017
 Categories: Law, Blog


When the dust has settled after a breakup, both parties have decided how to form their new lives and an order has been issued regarding custody of the children, everything can get back to normal. Sometimes, however, one of the parents will decide that they want to move away to the far side of the country. If they essentially have primary custody of the children, how does this affect not just the other parent, but the children as well? How will the courts view this type of request from the relocating parent?

Children's Interest

Most legal experts will tell you that the courts will consider the interests of the children to be paramount. While this is certainly the case in most instances, it is not the only consideration. In fact, in certain cases another factor could "trump" what may be perceived as the best interests of the children. What could lead to this kind of decision?

Many different factors come into the frame when assessing how any move could impact the children. For example, the exact nature of the family relationship will be important, as are exhibited behaviours by the mother and father, both in the past and present. How will the move impact the children, in terms of their ability to integrate into the new school system and social circles? Sometimes, the opinion of the children will be considered, if they are mature enough to give it.

What About the Parents?

However, it's also possible that the social and psychological needs of the parent that wishes to relocate will be considered as the deciding factor. If this individual would be prevented from relocating, could this have a serious effect on their mental health, and as a consequence, prevent them from carrying out their parental duties properly?

Focusing on the Positive

This can be a very challenging case to prove, and ordinarily, this approach shouldn't be used as a primary argument by the relocating parent in setting up their position. Rather, it may be better for this individual to demonstrate that they have carefully planned for the relocation, by providing a lot of information and details. For example, they need to show that they've researched the school systems, neighbourhood safety and health care providers and have come up with a list of organisations or names that may be of assistance to the children when they are "bedding in."

Help with the Complexity

As these cases can be so complicated and a judgement can often swing on relatively minor details, it's always best to get in touch with a family lawyer for assistance moving forward.