Do I need to ask my co-parent if I want to relocate? What if they say no?

If you move without the other parent’s consent or a court order this is called a unilateral relocation


Short answer: yes, you do need permission to move, but this can either come from the other parent or the court.

How do you go about that? Let’s ask Sally and Fred:

Sally and Fred have two children together, Tina (aged 12) and Tom (aged 10). Now that Sally and Fred have separated, Sally wants to move back to Melbourne because that is where her family live and because her old employer has offered her a high paying job if she returns.

Consent from your co-parent

Sally’s first step is to speak to Fred about relocating back to Melbourne.

When you have this conversation, you should already have an idea about when the kids will spend time with that other parent if you moved.

Think about it from Fred’s perspective – if Sally just told him she would like to move to Melbourne and simply asked him to agree, his first thought is most likely going to be “but when am I going to see the kids?” and this could start the conversation off on the wrong foot.

But if Sally started the conversation saying that she would like to move to Melbourne and she would like Fred to spend time with the children for most of the school holidays and she would be happy to share the cost of flights, that would set the ground work to have a good discussion about Sally’s possible relocation.

Sally could always try and sit down and chat a talk directly with Fred, or she could suggest that they attend a Mediation to explore the idea and come to an agreement.

If Fred still refuses, Sally’s next step is to apply to court.

Court Order

The court considers a range of things when deciding whether to grant a Relocation Order, including:

  1. What is needed to maintain a meaningful relationship with the Fred and the children;

  2. The nature of Fred’s relationship with the children;

  3. How much time Fred is currently spending with the children;

  4. The children’s views;

  5. The cost of the children spending time with Fred and whether the parties can afford the cost.

Court is always your last resort – although sometimes it is a necessary resort for example if Fred flat out refused.

What if I just don’t do either of these?

If you move without the other parent’s consent or a court order this is called a unilateral relocation.

If Sally was to unilaterally relocate with the children to Melbourne without Fred’s consent or a court Order, then Fred could ask the court for a Recovery Order.

A Recovery Order would Order that the children be returned to where they are currently living until the court makes a decision.

This is not a nice process and if you are made to return under a Recovery Order, it can put you on the back foot when you do ask the court when you ask for a Relocation Order so it always pays to do the right thing first try.

Where to from here? 

You are probably in one of three head spaces right now: 

  1. You liked the information, you found it interesting - but that’s all you wanted for now.

  2. This blog post resonated with you but you are just not ready yet to do anything and just want to look at more information about Family Law – I suggest you look at the other Free Information we have on our website which includes FAQ's as well as Helpful Links and Contacts that may come in handy.

  3. You are wanting more information about what you need to know after separation or you are ready to do something about your problem right now. If that is the case, then book an appointment with one of our Family Law solicitors by clicking here to make an online booking or why not start online!