The expanding mobility of society means that parents are increasingly faced with tough geographic choices when they are no longer a partner with the other parent of one or more of their children.

The Conflict Between Custody/Access & Mobility

Most child custody and access legal regimes are based on geographic proximity. As soon as more than a hour or so of travel time each way separates a child from the other parent, logistics start to impede frequent contact. Go over two hours, and a shared custody regime is unlikely. Go over four or five hours and anything more than monthly access plus longer holidays and summertimes may become practically impossible, especially for a younger child. 

A parent who wishes to relocate with a child to the other side of a continent or around the world will effectively deny the other parent any regular meaningful access beyond perhaps once or twice yearly visits. Even that limited access will be highly dependent on the parents being wealthy enough to afford regular air travel. Thus very careful preparation is needed in developing a court application that seeks one parent's relocation with a child to a place beyond easy vehicle travel to the other parent. 

Best Interests of Child & Status Quo Govern Mobility

The best interests of the child test applies to mobility questions. Historical facts of who has been the primary caregiver for the child, and what kind of role each parent has played to date in the child's upbringing, are highly relevant. It's difficult to predict court results for parental and child mobility applications as the caselaw precedents are very fact-specific. Thus presenting a full factual record to the court is very important. 

You definitely need a knowledgable family lawyer to help if you want to move with your child, or if you need to fight a proposed move by the other parent. Under no circumstances should you just move without a court order or the explicit written consent of the other parent. If you have a separation agreement in place governing terms of access and geography of where the child will live, and you move anyway, you could be committing contempt of court. You could even be committing a criminal offence if you flee internationally or domestically with a child with the goal of hiding the child from the other parent.


  1. How to Move With Your Child After Separation or Divorce