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Family Law

International relocation permitted after mother says she’ll move even without the kids

By December 22, 2016No Comments

By Gianna Huesch

A mother of four has been successful in her application for international relocation, to relocate from Australia to New Zealand after convincing a judge that she herself would move regardless of whether the court made orders allowing her to take her children with her.

In the recent case of Winslow & Winslow (court-appointed pseudonyms), the mother sought to relocate to New Zealand, her country of origin, in order to receive greater support from her family and friends, and improve her financial position, accommodation and work prospects.

The judge accepted that the mother’s reasons for wishing to relocate were reasonable and found that it was in the best interests of the children not to be separated from the mother who had been their primary carer since birth.

While both the father and the family consultant indicated they were doubtful of the likelihood of the mother actually leaving the children as she foreshadowed, the judge stated he was not prepared to make orders on the basis of that “assumption” and took the mother prima facie at her word. He accepted that the mother’s depression and anxiety and her difficulties in raising the four children as a single mother without local family support meant that she was likely to follow through on the stated intention. The family consultant expressed the concern that the mother’s mental health would decline if the relocation was not allowed, impacting on her parenting capacity.

The court formed the view that given the father’s financial position and own ties to New Zealand (including having family there), it was likely that maintaining contact with the children would be feasible despite the great distance.  The children’s demonstrated ability to make use of modern technology to maintain a meaningful relationship with their father, on the occasions he has been away on business, was also a factor in making the orders. Further, the court took into account the views of the four children, who are aged between 10 and 15, and did not find they had been induced by the mother to agree to the move by promises of gifts like a dog and a horse in New Zealand, as the father claimed. The judge found the children’s views as expressed were “consistent with their ages, appropriately considered and genuine”.

While the father argued the four children could reside with him, the judge found that, given the father and his new partner’s careers meant they each worked at least 50 hours a week, it was unlikely he could provide the level of care that the four children required, particularly given there was also a two year old half-sibling in the father’s household.

Read the case: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FamCA/2016/1023.html

Do you need help with a relocation matter, whether you wish to relocate your children or seek to prevent your ex-partner from moving the children away from you? We have experience in relocation cases and can assist—please contact Cristina Huesch or one of our other solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400.

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