Child Relocation

Relocation Of Children

Have you entered into an agreement with your children’s other parent whether verbally or in writing without a lawyer.

You need to be aware that arrangements made between you and the child’s other parent are not necessarily enforceable by the courts because the overriding consideration is that of the welfare of the child.

Therefore, if the child or children’s day to day care and access /contact arrangements agreed between you are not considered by the family court to be for the welfare of the child or children then the courts will not enforce it.

It has been said by Judge Cooke and Judge Richardson of the court of appeal that the person entitled to custody of the child or children must have reasonable freedom to select the child or children’s place of residence, but went on to say that restrictions are common.

The Child’s Welfare

Regardless of whether the relocation is to an overseas country or to another town or city in New Zealand the overriding principle is the welfare of the child or children.

The factors to be taken into account when assessing whether moving would be in favour of the welfare of the children or not are almost limitless.

Judge Doogue of the high court considered the age of the children to be important and placed particular emphasis on the trauma of change for the children after they had already been through the stress of their parents separating. Other factors to take into account include the trauma for the children of a move and the reasons for the custodial parent wanting to move.

Wishes Of The Child

The child’s wishes are also to be taken into account, for example the child or children may not want to move. They may have developed strong friendships at school and moving would mean that they would have to leave their friends behind and make new friends and start a new school.

The Other Parent

Judge Inglis has said that the custodial parent’s desires to move are to be regulated by “the responsibility to place the children’s welfare and interests first, with particular regard to the children’s own need to retain their relationship with the non-custodial parent.”

The family court will weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed move including the loss of contact with other family members such as grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles.

The importance of the children’s relationship with the non custodial parent will be highly important and the courts will consider it to be a disadvantage if the relocation would result in a loss of regular contact with the children’s other parent unless there has been violence.


The best interests of the child or children are still the paramount consideration in Australia.

When considering relocating abroad the practical difficulties and expense of the child or children having contact with the other parent and the inevitable affect of the child’s ability to maintain regular direct contact on a regular basis with that other parent are highly relevant matters to be taken into consideration.

With the exception of Australia, there will be difficulties enforcing contact once children have moved overseas, particularly when the child has been relocated to a country which is not a signatory to the Hague Convention.

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