What factors does the Court assess in child mobility cases?

On behalf of Gary Kirk of Kirk Montoute Dawson LLP posted in Family Law on Sunday, June 14, 2015.

In deciding matters of child custody, one of the Court’s main concerns is to ensure, when appropriate, that contact between the child and both parents is sustained. That being said, if one parent wants to move with the child, the Court will take a fresh look at custody arrangements, having regard to the following factors:

  1. the existing custody arrangement and relationship between the child and the custodial parent;
  2. the existing access arrangement and the relationship between the child and the access parent;
  3. the desirability of maximizing contact between the child and both parents;
  4. the views of the child;
  5. the custodial parent’s reason for moving, only in the exceptional case where it is relevant to that parent’s ability to meet the needs of the child;
  6. disruption to the child of a change in custody;
  7. disruption to the child consequent on removal from family, schools, and the community he or she has come to know.

For example, a parent who has filed a mobility application with the Court may be asked about his or her employment opportunities in the new location. A parent seeking to move with a child can also expect to be asked about new schooling and child care arrangements. Do other family members or friends live near the new residence? And what are the child’s wishes? In some cases, the Court may ask for a psychological assessment of the child.

Parenting arrangements that have been decided through mediation, a court order or a divorce judgment typically require each parent to provide ample notice to the other prior to any move with the child. Such a notice gives the stay-behind parent an opportunity to exercise his or her parental rights and potentially oppose the move.

If the Court grants mobility, then the stay-behind parent may in turn be granted additional concessions, such as extended holiday time with the child. If relocation of the child is expected to result in increased transportation costs for the stay-behind parent, then the Court may consider a reduction in that parent’s child support obligation.

Of course, each case is different, and parents in Calgary with child mobility concerns should seek advice from an experienced child mobility lawyer.

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