International Child Relocation

With many people travelling internationally on a regular basis either for work or pleasure, it is common for married or de facto couples to come from different parts of the world or to live in a country that is not their country of origin. Once children are added to the mix, it can mean there are people who are important to the children such as grandparents and extended family members located around the world.

When a relationship ends, it is not uncommon for one parent to want to return to live in their country of origin or a location near to where their immediate or extended family are living. The reasons for this may include a need for emotional and financial support from their family following separation, including assistance with accommodation or child-care, an employment opportunity overseas, or a new relationship where the new partner wants to move or is already living in another country.

A parent or guardian cannot unilaterally determine that children should move to live in another city or country. A decision to relocate a child’s residence away from the city or country where they are living or have habitually lived, is an exercise of guardianship. This requires parents or guardians to consult with each other and endeavour to agree on whether the relocation should happen, before it occurs.

In the event that parties have made a genuine attempt to resolve the issue of a potential relocation, but have been unable to reach agreement, a court application to determine the dispute will be necessary if a parent wants to relocate with the children. This is commonly referred to as determination of a dispute between guardians.

The question of relocation of a child’s residence, often forms part of the overall determination the Court has to make in deciding parenting arrangements for children. The Court will usually assess each party’s competing position before coming to a final determination of the issues in dispute. The paramount consideration is what is in a child’s best interests.

It is important to seek advice on a possible relocation of children at an early stage, preferably before you engage in the legal process. This is where our Principal, Vanessa Leishman’s experience and expertise in relocation cases is key.

Vanessa can help you understand the factors the Court is likely to take into account when considering the question of your children relocating and the principles the Court considers when determining a child’s best interests. Vanessa can also provide advice tailored to your specific circumstances so that you can address any issues that need to be worked through before your matter proceeds to mediation or Court. This means you will be prepared, and your case can be presented in the best possible way.

Should you need advice on relocating with children or opposing a relocation either between New Zealand and Australia or elsewhere, please contact Vanessa to arrange a meeting.

If you need any assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call +64 9 363 2767 for a no-obligation discussion and for expert legal advice.