Relocation Granted Contrary to Report Recommendation
In a recent case a Judge made an Order which permitted the relocation of 3 children with the mother from North Queensland to Brisbane, despite the family report recommending that it would not be in the children’s best interests.
Relocation is treated on a case-by-case basis and it may be years after separation that one of the parties might apply for a relocation in the court. It is inevitable that the actions and behaviour of both parties towards the children during the intervening proposal will be taken into account.
The court must consider a variety of factors when determining whether to allow the relocation, including the effect the move will have on their relationship with the other parent.
In this case, the mother’s main argument for the relocation was that the youngest child, aged 8 had been diagnosed with severe autism and she was struggling as the primary carer for all of the children. The mother also had extended family in Brisbane who would be able to support her and there were greater facilities available to assist to care for the child with autism.
The father opposed the relocation proposing that if it was to be allowed that the eldest child live with him due to their ‘very close bond’. The added complication was that the father earned a significant income by working a roster which prevented the children from living with him on a permanent basis.
The eldest child, a boy aged 13 had a very close relationship with his father and expressed a wish not to move. There was evidence that the middle child aged 9, was often excluded and felt “left out”, as the care for the youngest child often overshadowed her needs.
The report concluded that relocation for the oldest child would be “highly detrimental” based on the level of development and his attachment to the father. It was also concluded that relocation would not be in the other children’s best interests.
The court allowed the mother to relocate with the children to Brisbane. Although the father had a good relationship with all 3 children, he did not intend to take on more responsibility for their care and had indicated that he could not handle all 3 children on his own. The court found that the children would still be able to have a ‘meaningful relationship’ with the father by ‘spending time’ during the term and block time in school holidays. The court expressed a concern that, if required to remain in North Queensland, the pressure the mother was under would detrimentally affect her parenting capacity and her relationship with the children.