Vancouver Family Lawyers Advising on Relocation & Mobility

Numerous factors can impact a parent’s decision to relocate to a new city, province, or country, including career opportunities and new relationships. However, individuals in co-parenting arrangements (whether through shared parenting time or decision-making responsibilities) cannot unilaterally decide to move away with their child and must seek the Court’s approval through a relocation application.

Meridian Law Group provides innovative legal solutions to parents on either side of a relocation matter and protects clients’ rights in pre-trial negotiations and at trial if required. The firm’s family law team is highly knowledgeable in complex relocation cases and vigorously advocates at all stages of a proceeding to ensure the client’s needs and their children’s best interests are met.

Moving or Relocation?

The term “relocation” refers to a proposed move by one parent or guardian that can reasonably be expected to have a significant impact on that child’s relationship with their other parent/guardian or a person who has a significant role in the child’s life.

In contrast, a change in residence that is not expected to significantly impact the child’s relationship with the other parent/guardian is not likely to require court approval. Instead, the moving parent will need to notify any other person with parenting time (formerly known as “access”), decision-making responsibility (formerly known as “custody”) or an order for contact.

Notice of Relocation in British Columbia

When a parent or guardian wishes to relocate, they are required to provide 60 days written notice to the other parent, guardian, and other people who have contact with the child under a court order or agreement. The notice must specify the date of the relocation and the proposed new location. It should be noted that this 60-day notice is required whether the relocating parent intends to bring the child with them or not.

The Court may dispense with the requirement to serve notice on the other parent if there is no ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent/guardian or person with a contact order, or if the notice could create a risk of family violence. Only the Court may grant these exceptions to the 60-day notice requirement.

Objecting to a Proposed Relocation

If the child’s other parent or guardian wishes to object to the proposed relocation, they must do so within 30 days after receiving notice. To object, the non-relocating parent must file an application for an order prohibiting the relocation.

A person who simply has contact with a child and does not have parenting time or decision-making authority cannot file an objection to the relocation. They may, however, request a change to their contact arrangements to facilitate their ongoing relationship with the child.

Factors Considered in Relocation Applications

The primary consideration in any relocation matter is the child’s best interests. As per British Columbia’s Family Law Act, the Court must also consider:

  • Whether the parents/guardians have substantially equal parenting time;
  • Whether the relocating parent/guardian has proposed reasonable and workable arrangements to preserve the relationship between the child, other parent/guardian, and other persons who have contact with or play a significant role in the child’s life;
  • Whether the proposed relocation is made in good faith, determined by reviewing the reasons for the relocation, any court-ordered or agreed-upon restrictions on relocation, and whether the relocation will enhance the child or relocating parent’s quality of life.

Best Interests of the Child

When determining any matter relating to a child, the Court must consider several factors as they relate to the child’s best interests. These factors are similar across most provincial and federal family legislation.

Some examples of factors impacting a child’s best interests under the Family Law Act of British Columbia include:

  • The child’s health and emotional well-being;
  • The child’s views, if it’s appropriate to consider them;
  • The nature and strength of the child’s relationship with significant persons in their life;
  • The history of the child’s care;
  • The child’s need for stability, considering their age and developmental stage; and
  • The impact of any family violence on the child’s safety, security, and well-being.

In British Columbia, the party responsible for proving to the Court that a proposed relocation is or is not in a child’s best interests varies depending on how parenting time (access) or decision-making responsibility (custody) is shared between the parents/guardians.

Meridian Law Group: Advising Parents on Relocation Issues Across Canada & Internationally

Relocation disputes can be highly contentious and emotional, with potentially significant impacts on a parent’s relationship with their child and their ability to effectively co-parent. Having knowledgeable legal counsel is critical to ensure all avenues for early resolution are explored to maintain healthy co-parenting relationships if possible, minimize conflict, and reduce the detrimental effects on the child’s well-being.

Meridian Law Group provides candid, reliable advice to parents considering relocating or have been served with another parent’s intention to relocate with their child. We understand parents understand their rights and legal options regarding mobility both with and without an order governing parenting time (access) or decision-making responsibility (custody) in place and develop tailored strategies for resolving relocation disputes with as little conflict as possible.

Meridian Law Group has been a mainstay of the Vancouver legal community for over 30 years and consistently delivers results for clients in family law and divorce matters. We advise on relocation and mobility matters across British Columbia, Canada, and worldwide. To schedule a consultation, call us at (604) 687-2277 or reach out online.