If I Need Permission From My Ex To Move Away With Our Child, Does My Spouse Need Permission to Move Away From Us?

When a child has one or two (or more) primary parents after separation, the (or each) primary parent needs permission from the ex to move any significant distance away. This is because the move will interfere with the ability of the other parent (or parents) to parent the child. Whatever the parenting schedule may be, it likely will not work if it was based on parents living relatively close to each other, or just in the same city and now the parents are living in different cities. It is the disruption in the parenting schedule that matters, so it may be that even if the parents still live in the same city, traffic to the length of the commute will prevent the existing parenting schedule from working for the child even if the parents live in the same city. It is whether the parenting schedule can still work for the child that creates the need for getting permission. Both parents must agree that the move is in the child’s best interest and a part of that determination is whether the child will still be able to have the same relationship with both parents.

However, if a “non-primary parent” moves, then that parent will be interfering with his or her own time with the child. However, that move will, presumably, not affect the primary parent’s time with the kids. More importantly, the move will not affect the child’s relationship with his or her primary parent. It will, obviously, affect the child’s relationship with the non-primary parent. That relationship may not have been as important in the past. It will always be detrimental for a child to lose contact with one parent. But, if a parent is moving away from a child, that parent clearly views the relationship with the child as less important than whatever is prompting the move. There may not be the level of commitment necessary for a strong relationship, which may be why that moving parent is not a “primary parent” in the first place. Hopefully, even after the move, the child will maintain some contact with the moving parent, and hopefully, that will be enough to meet the child’s need for some knowledge and understanding of the identity of both (or all) parents. Unfortunately, judges have learned it is futile to try to force parents to have a relationship with their children. It does not work out well, regardless of how important it is for a child to know their parents. A parent who is not putting their child first, will not put their child first if forced to visit and that will lead to disappointment and problems for the child.

If both parents want to move further away from the child’s existing home, it will be hard for a non-primary parent to deny the other parent permission to move because the primary parent’s move will not affect the other parent’s time with the child. If the primary parent is moving to Australia or Europe, then the other parent might have a reason to oppose it as such a large move could have even more devastating effects on that parent’s relationship with the child than would result from that parent’s own move. However, chances are if the non-primary is already moving far enough way that he or she cannot continue to see the child on weekends, then there is no reason to oppose the primary parent moving.

Deciding whether to let one parent move away with the kids is one of the hardest questions judges face and they consider a lot of factors in deciding whether to allow a parent to move away with the kids. The most important of these factors, perhaps the only one the judge will care about when deciding any parenting matter, is what is in the child’s best interest. Going back to the original question, if a non-primary parent is moving away anyway, it may not affect the kids at all if the primary parent subsequently moves too.

If one parent won’t give the other permission to move, then the moving parent should start family court proceedings right away. Without the other parent’s consent, a parent cannot move a child away if it affects the ability of the child to have a relationship with both parents. If one parent does just move away, a judge could order that parent to bring the child back, or make a worse order, if the moving parent just cut off the child from a parent. Any lawyer who tells anyone that he or she can predict, with certainty, how a judge will decide a “mobility case” (a case about moving with the kids) is lying. Judges are all over the map on these cases and each case depends on its own specific facts. But, if a parent moving with the kids won’t impact the other parent because the second parent is moving anyway, the first parent has a pretty good chance. A non-moving parent who opposes a move may have to pay some or all of the moving parent’s lawyers’ fees if the reasons for opposing the move are not reasonable.

Also, a parent having to spend a lot of money to exercise access is one of the few bases on which a judge can reduce child support below the Table Amount in the Child Support Guidelines. That may not impact a parent’s decision to move, but it is something to consider. It is harder for a parent to ask for a reduction of child support because of travel costs if the parent moves away and chooses to incur those costs.

John Schuman Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law book cover

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of parenting cases (parenting time and decision making), child support, spousal support, property division, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback. But to understand how the law works precisely in your situation, it is always best to speak to a good Family Law Lawyer.

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