Separation Post COVID 19 – Relocation of children and the importance of planning now
Separation is tough! Especially when there are children involved but add a pandemic into the mix and it is next level.
In these uncertain times it may feel as though you have little control over your separation particularly if you are wanting to move with the children. With the COVID-19 restrictions easing, you might be considering that now is the time to move.
If you are contemplating moving with the children (often referred to as relocation), here are some of our top tips for you to consider:
Develop a plan or proposal
- Job prospects.
- Support system.
- What school/s you propose the children attend?
- Where will you reside with the children?
- Possibility of the other parent also relocating.
- Proposal for time to be spent with the other parent
Make sure your proposal for time is specific
- How long the children will spend with the other parent. For example, do you propose longer blocks of holiday time? Is the other parent welcome to see the children in your proposed location?
- Facilitation of regular communication via Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp or other electronic means and how often?
Have your agreement made binding
If you reach an agreement with the other parent about parenting arrangements for your children and would like to make the agreement enforceable before you leave, then you will need to document your agreement as Consent Orders sealed by the Court.
Be cautious to the fact that a written agreement or parenting plan is not legally binding.
Why is it important to have an agreement made binding? Consider the following scenario. You and your former spouse agree to you and the children relocating to another state which you do. One month after moving, conflict erupts between you both and your former spouse demands that the children be returned ‘home’. In this scenario your former spouse could make an application to the Court to have the children returned on an interim basis which would mean that you would have to make the decision of staying where you are without the children or moving back with the children. If you had consent orders, the onus would be on your former spouse to convince the Court to discharge the current Orders and have new Orders replace them.
If you cannot reach an agreement, utilise the assistance of the Court
If you cannot agree on new arrangements the only alternative is to approach the Court for permission to go. This can be a lengthy process. There is no guarantee that your matter will move through the Court system more quickly, based on your proposal to relocate.
If you are the parent staying behind and anticipate that your former partner is going to relocate without your agreement, you need to commence proceedings quickly, to restrain your former partner from relocating with the children.
If you are considering relocating or you are concerned that your spouse will relocate with the children, please get in touch with us. We are here to help and just a phone call away.