A common family litigation issue is moving with children after separation or divorce. As of March 1, 2021, the Divorce Act was changed, containing new rules when it comes to residence change and relocation.
Here are important changes you should be aware of today:
New notice requirements are required if you are planning to move
The Divorce Act now has rules for providing a notice when you are planning to move with your child. For parents who have an order under the Divorce Act, including access, custody, decision-making, and parenting time, you should provide a notice of your plan to move to someone who has also access to that parenting order. It is important to be clear if your move will be for a “relocation” or a “change of residence.”
Understanding “relocation” under the new divorce act
Keep in mind that not all moves are relocation. The new Divorce Act features a more child-focused definition to recognize if the move will be a relocation or not.
Generally, “relocation” means that the scheduling of parenting for the child is no longer effective because of the move. In a more specific sense, a “relocation” applies if the move will significantly impact the child’s relationship with you or someone who is applying for the children’s custody.
On the other hand, a “change in place of residence” is a move that will have no significant effect on your child’s relationships.
The notice that will be required from you must be in the form of writing and should include (1) the date you are moving, (2) your new address, and (3) your new contact details.
New process for a “relocation”
Once you’ve submitted the Notice of Relocation (at least 60 days before the relocation) with the details required by the Divorce Act, here’s the next process to be expected:
- If you plan to move or relocate with your child/children, a person with parenting responsibilities for the kids can make objections within 30 days upon the receipt of the notice. They can make the objection by filling out an Objection to Relocation form or requesting the court to cease the relocation. Remember that an individual with a contact order is not allowed to object to a child’s relocation; however, he/she can request for the contact order to be adjusted once the relocation is approved.
- In case both parents agree to the relocation of the child or if the 30-day time-frame has passed with no objection or court request, and of course, if there is no current court order that prohibited the relocation, the one who planned the relocation can successfully move with the child after the date specified on the notice.
What if there is someone who opposed the relocation?
If there is an Objection to Relocation, or a court has sent you an application preventing the relocation, you should not relocate the child until the court allows it. The court will be responsible for deciding whether a child can be relocated or not. The decision will be based mainly on the children’s best interests, considering all the factors added to the new Divorce Act.
There are some provisions that are also added in the Divorce Act to promote outcome predictability and child stability. Some of these provisions include clear burdens of proof, travel expenses, double-bind question prohibition, and others.
We will be happy to discuss each of these provisions with you, so get in touch with us at Dreyer and Associates Family Lawyers if you have questions.
Conclusion: Get familiar with the new Divorce Act changes before moving with children after separation or divorce
The Divorce Act was updated last Mar 1, 2021. It is important to get familiar with these changes to make sure that family law matters, most especially when it comes to moving with your kids, are explained clearly.
To find out more about the new changes when relocating or moving to a new place with your kids after a separation or divorce, Dreyer and Associates Family Lawyers is here to assist. We are experienced when it comes to family law, residential conveyancing, wills and estates, and more in Fraser Valley and the Lower Mainland, BC. Set an appointment with us!