By Lori L. Aylwin

One of the toughest issues we face in family law is the question of whether a parent can move their residence and “move forward” after separation when there are arrangements with another parent for access or when there is a shared residential arrangement. 

Here is a list of DO’s and DON’Ts for parents contemplating a move:

DO allow yourself sufficient time to give the other parent notice and for you to make appropriate plans, if a move is necessary for work purposes.  Tell your employer that you have to consider the change based on how it will impact your custody and access arrangement.

DO fully investigate the proposed move with the focus being on whether this move will be in the best interests of the children.  What are the schools like?  How far will the children have to travel to see the other parent? Are the children at a crucial point in their school career that a move may have a detrimental effect on their success?

DON’T assume that services/educational supports will be available for your children in the new locale…get all the information in advance and in writing if possible to address any questions / concerns that may arise regarding services available in the new area. 

DON’T move for your new partner with whom you have had a short-term relationship.  Your primary consideration should be the attachment of your child to their other parent. 

DO give advance written notice to the other parent that you intend to move.  Give them all the details you can muster and do it in a manner that shows respect for their relationship with the children

DON’T tell them  you are moving, consult with them regarding the move.

DON’T buy a new house or sell your own or accept a position in another city or province expecting to take your children until you have the other parent’s consent in writing for the move.

DON’T assume because your court order or agreement doesn’t say you have to live in a certain area that you can just move whenever and wherever you want with your children.

DON’T assume just because you are the residential parent or you have sole custody that you can just move away (even a distance more than ½ hour away may disrupt the parenting schedule/or relationship.

DO make a plan regarding how you will ensure that the other parent has meaningful contact with the children if you do move.  Consider the extra financial burden on  a support payor/access parent if they have to travel further to see the children.

DO consider your child’s needs/regarding school/ counseling/extra-curricular participation and how your child’s life will be impacted by the move. 

DON’T make a move motivated by a desire to get away from the other parent .  In situations of domestic violence or harassment this advice could be different. – consult with a lawyer.  If  he other parent just annoys you that is not a reason to move.

DO consult with a Family Law lawyer as soon as possible when considering a move.