Relocation: Moving Out of Town with Kids

Relocation has become an increasingly common occurrence in children’s lives once their parents have separated or divorced.

More often than not, one parent wishes to move to another city outside of Vancouver, or even outside of Canada because of a job offer, or simply to restart their lives in a new place.

However, separating your child from their other parent could significantly impact their relationship and will require an agreed upon amendment to the parenting schedules and arrangements.

Often, parents do not agree on the decision to move and an agreement must then be established through a court order. There is no doubt that from the relocating parent’s perspective, the relocation is what is best for him/her. However, the court will only consider whether the relocation is in the child(ren)’s best interests.

Will One Parent Be Able to Move?

In order to provide more certainty when a parent wishes to relocate with their child/children, the Family Law Act of British Columbia (“the Act”) establishes certain factors that the courts will consider when making a decision on whether to approve the relocation or not.

Notice Period

As per section 66 of the Act, the parent of the child/children who intends to move is required to give 60 days notice to the other parent. The notice must indicate the proposed date of the move as well as the name of the area of his/her new place of residence.

The idea behind the notice period requirement is to encourage cooperation between the parents so that they are able establish new parenting arrangements. If an agreement is established, it is strongly suggested that the terms of the agreement be put in writing to avoid potential future conflict.

What If the Move is Opposed by the Other Parent?

Should the other parent object to the move, he/she must do so with in 30 days of receiving the notice of relocation. If, once the objection is raised, the parties are still not able to come to an agreement, then an application should be submitted to court for a judge to determine whether the relocation should be approved or not.

Factors That the Court Will Consider

The court will first consider the parenting time that each respective parent has with the child/children after the separation. In instances where the parents of the child/children do not share equal parenting time and the court is satisfied that the move is being made in the interests of the child/children, then it is likely that the court will rule in favour of the relocation.

In cases where the parents share equal parenting time, the court will consider the fact that each parent plays an important role in the child/children’s day-to-day life.

Moving away will understandably make it challenging to maintain contact with the child/children for the non-custodial parent. Therefore, the parent who wishes to move will bear the responsibility of convincing the court that:

  • The intended relocation is made in good faith;
  • There is an established plan in which he/she has suggested reasonable and workable arrangements that will ensure the preservation of the relationship between the child/children and their other parent; and 
  • The relocation is in the child(ren)’s best interests.

Good Faith

In considering whether the proposal to relocate has been made in good faith, the court will examine the reasons for the move, whether there will be an improvement in the quality of life of the child/children, whether the notice requirements were met, and whether there is a standing agreement between the parents that prohibits relocation.

The good faith consideration will allow the court to establish whether the parent wants to move just to limit contact with the other parent, or whether there is genuine benefit to the move.

Reasonable and Workable Arrangements

An example of reasonable and workable arrangements is set out in the 2015 Supreme Court case of Hansen v. Ferguson, 2015 BCSC 588.

In this case, the court found that the relocating mother was willing to share all the travel costs and provide regular Skype appointments, which was considered to mean that she was doing her best to ensure that the children preserved their relationship with their father.

Each situation is determined on a case-by-case basis, but it is helpful to be aware that the court will consider every effort that the relocating parent is making to ensure contact between the child/children and their other parent. This, in turn, will essentially assure the court that the decision to move has been made in good faith.

If Relocation is Approved

If the court is of the opinion that the moving parent has satisfied all the aforementioned requirements, then the relocation is presumed to be in the best interests of the child/children and should accordingly be permitted (unless the other parent convinces the court otherwise). 

In instances of approval, the judge is authorized to make any changes to an existing parenting arrangement agreement, should he/she find it necessary to ensure the preservation of the relationship with the other parent.

Conclusion

If either you or your co-parent are considering relocating to new area with your child/children, be sure to contact a Family Law lawyer to consider your options and chances of success.

Disclaimer – The information contained herein is of a general nature. It is not intended to be legal advice and it is not intended to address the exact circumstances of any particular individual or entity. No one should rely on or act upon such information without receiving appropriate professional advice and without a thorough examination of their particular situation. Please contact our office if you have any questions with respect to the content of this entry, this website, or our Terms and Conditions .