When is an interim relocation allowed?
Relocation cases are always difficult because there are often many legitimate competing interests that the court must consider, although the “best interest” of the child will always be paramount.
Recently, a mother wanted to relocate to a new town with her 13 year old daughter. The mother had remarried and her husband had been working in the new town for 12 months prior to her application being heard. The mother’s eldest daughter, who was 18 years old (and sibling to the 13 year old) had voluntarily moved and was living with her step-father while completing her senior education.
The mother sought to expedite the final hearing so that she and her family could have certainty moving forward. The father opposed both the relocation and the application for an expedited final hearing, on the basis of his ill-health. He stated that his ill-health would prevent him being able to adequately prepare for the final hearing and further sought that the matter be listed for “mention” only at some predetermined date in the future.
The father was successful in getting the final hearing trial dates vacated however the court then considered the issue of relocation on an interim hearing. The court was concerned that without a decision the parties and importantly, the subject child would be left in a state of limbo.
Ultimately, the court allowed the relocation on an interim basis. In this case the court considered the strongly held views of the child, the separation of siblings and the attachment of the child to each parent. The matter is currently subject to an appeal by the father.