Factors Alberta courts consider in mobility applications

On behalf of Gary Kirk of Kirk Montoute Dawson LLP posted in Family Law on Monday, July 11, 2016.

Here we continue our discussion thread from our last two posts about the law surrounding a request by a Canadian parent with substantial custody of a child to move away with that child when the relocation distance from the other parent would prevent the current custody or parenting time arrangement from continuing. For example, if a custody order provided for the child spending every other weekend with the other parent, a child relocation that took that child more than a short distance away could make those access visits impossible. 

We discussed previously that the Supreme Court of Canada case of Gordon v. Goertz is the leading case nationally providing guidance to provincial judges in mobility applications. To review, the judge first looks at whether there has been a material change in the circumstances that impact the child. If so, the judge must take a fresh look at what the best interests of the child are now that circumstances in his or her life have changed. 

The Gordon opinion enumerates several factors that the judge should weigh in determining from a “child-centred perspective” whether the proposed relocation is in the best interests of the child: 

  • The current custody arrangement and the child’s relationship with the parent having custody
  • The current access arrangement and the child’s relationship with the parent having access
  • The desirability of the child having maximum contact with both parents
  • The child’s opinion
  • The reason the parent wants to move
  • The disruption to the child if custody were to be changed to the parent staying in the home community
  • The disruption to the child if he or she moved away from that community with the custodial parent

These posts have only introduced a complicated area of family law. Any Alberta parent facing relocation, whether the parent seeking to move or the parent opposing a move, should seek legal advice as soon as possible to understand the impact of the law in the individual circumstances.

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