How Far Can You Move Away with Joint Custody Australia: Key Factors and Legal Considerations

Moving away with joint custody can be a complicated issue in Australia, as there is no specific limit written into the law regarding how far a parent can relocate.

Instead, the court primarily focuses on the child’s living arrangements currently, if there is equal shared parental responsibility, and what is in the child’s best interests, then balancing those facts against the relocating parent’s freedom to move. When parents cannot agree on a relocation, the parent who wishes to move may need to seek a change to the court order.

Relocation orders are commonly sought when a parent wants to move to a new location due to reasons, such as financial necessity or family support, and has been unable to come to an agreement with the other parent/carer. The Family Court will weigh the proposed move against the child’s interest to have meaningful relationships with both parents, often while considering the quality of family support available at the new location.

It is crucial for parents to be prepared for potentially lengthy court processes and to understand that there is no guarantee the children will be allowed to move. To give yourself the best chance of a successful application, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.


Determining Factors for Relocation in Joint Custody

In joint custody cases in Australia, relocation is a complex issue and is determined based on the best interests of the child. Factors that the court considers when assessing a proposed relocation include:

  • the physical and emotional well-being of the children
  • the distance of the move
  • the reasons for the relocation
  • the impact on their schooling and extracurricular activities
  • existing parenting arrangements

One essential factor is the effect of the move on the children’s existing relationships with both parents. According to Section 60CC and 65DAA of the Family Law Act, both parents must be assured they will still spend time together regularly after separation. Therefore, maintaining a balance between the children’s need for stability and the parents’ right to choose the best place to live for their family is crucial.

The court also takes into account the reasons behind the relocation, such as new job opportunities, familial support, and improved living conditions. Furthermore, it evaluates the extent to which the relocating parent has attempted to involve their former partner in discussions regarding relocation and has considered alternative arrangements for the child.

Distance Limitations in Joint Custody in Australia

If one parent wishes to move a significant geographical distance away from the other, this is referred to as “relocation” by the court, and there are no distance limitations on relocation in Australia. In these cases, parents should engage in open communication and try to reach a mutual agreement on the new parenting arrangements. If they can’t reach an agreement, they may need to seek legal advice or apply to the court for a decision regarding the relocation.

If the distance of the proposed relocation significantly disrupts the ability of the other parent to maintain a meaningful relationship with the child, the court might need to intervene to establish whether the move is in the child’s best interests.

Relocation Guidelines for Parents with Joint Custody

There are no specific guidelines for managing a relocation. However, the Family Law Act requires parents to consult with each other on changes that impact child custody arrangements, ensuring that any decisions made prioritise the best interests of the child.

Communication and cooperation are key, with both parents ideally reaching an agreement on the child’s future living arrangements. In some cases, this might require the assistance of a family lawyer to ensure a fair outcome for all parties involved.

If an agreement cannot be reached, the relocating parent may need to seek permission from the Family Court for a relocation order. It is crucial for parents to demonstrate a clear understanding of the implications involved in relocation and to seek appropriate advice to navigate the legal process.

In Australia, the legal process for relocating with joint custody encompasses several steps.

The first step is for the parents to consult each other about changes that may impact the child custody arrangements, as dictated by the Family Law Act.

The second step when planning a move is for parents to consult the existing parenting orders. These orders often include guidelines on permissible actions and specific circumstances requiring consultation between parents. Relocation typically becomes a matter of concern if it significantly impacts the child’s ability to spend time with both parents, which would be outlined in the parenting arrangement.

The third step happens in cases where parents cannot reach an agreement about relocating – they may opt for mediation to help with resolving their differences. This process involves an independent mediator who facilitates a conversation between the parents and aids them in decision-making. Mediation can be a helpful tool to reach a mutually agreeable solution without resorting to court intervention.

The fourth step happens if the parents are still unable to agree on relocation matters – they may need to apply for a relocation order through the Family Court. This court order allows or prevents the child and the parent from moving far away from the other parent.

It is crucial for parents to ensure they follow the proper legal steps when considering relocation with joint custody. This will minimise potential conflicts and ultimately safeguard the best interests of their child or children.

Implication of Breaching Custody Agreements

Breaching the agreed-upon custody arrangements can result in serious consequences, both legally and for the wellbeing of the child.

One possible implication of breaching a custody agreement is that the offending parent may be held in contempt of court. This can lead to fines or even jail time, depending on the severity and frequency of the breaches. It is essential for parents to consult with a family law attorney if a breach occurs in order to understand their rights and the possible legal ramifications.

Another potential issue when a parent breaches a custody agreement is the strain this can have on the relationship between the parents. Trust is a vital component in co-parenting and repeated violations of the agreement can erode this trust, making it difficult for the parents to work together effectively.

Additionally, breaching a custody agreement can negatively impact the child’s wellbeing. Children thrive in stable and predictable environments, and having their routine disrupted by a parent disregarding the custody agreement can lead to increased stress and anxiety for the child.

These reasons and more are why parents need to carefully consider a relocation and communicate with each other, so as to navigate the change in a way that maintains the co-parenting relationship and prioritises the well-being of the child or children.

When considering a relocation with joint custody in Australia, it is crucial to seek legal advice to ensure compliance with appropriate regulations and to navigate potential challenges. A professional legal adviser will provide the necessary guidance to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of all parties involved.

In some cases, moving a significant distance away with a child may require the other parent’s permission or, alternatively, court intervention. Legal experts can assist in understanding the ramifications of such a move and suggest the most effective course of action. They will help in assessing any parental arrangements, court orders, or informal agreements currently in place. This is vital, as relocating may require variations or new orders according to the circumstances surrounding each individual case.

If there is opposition to the proposed relocation, legal representation will aid in negotiating with the other parent or representing your best interests in court proceedings. Since the courts prioritise the child’s welfare when making decisions about relocation, presenting a solid case built on sound legal advice will be essential. Moreover, understanding the various legal avenues available for resolving family law disputes is a crucial advantage. Should the matter escalate, a family lawyer can help with mediation.

Need a Family Lawyer? Call Burke Mead Lawyers Today

In Australia, there isn’t a specific distance limit for parents who wish to move away while having joint custody arrangements. The court evaluates each case individually, and the outcome may vary depending on the specific circumstances.

Before making any plans to relocate, it is essential for parents to communicate with each other and strive to reach an agreement that benefits all parties involved, especially the child. If an agreement cannot be reached, it may be necessary to seek legal advice to understand the options and potential outcomes of a relocation request.

The team at Burke Mead Lawyers are experts in family law, including relocation orders and parenting arrangements Our legal team can assist you throughout this process to protect your legal rights –contact Burke Mead Lawyers today.

About the Author
Ebony Purcell

Ebony Purcell is an Associate in the Family Law Team at Burke Mead Lawyers. Ebony’s experience as a solicitor exclusively in family law spans more than 10 years advocating for her clients. She also regularly appears for clients in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia both locally and throughout the country.