Relocation

The rules about moving are complicated.  It is always a good idea to talk with a lawyer right away if you are planning a move. There could be serious consequences if you move with a child without the consent of the people who are significant in the child’s life.

Parenting terms have changed.  The parenting terms used on this page may be different from the words used in your current order or agreement. See more about parenting terms here.

Generally, decision-making responsibility means someone who has responsibility to make decisions for or about a child, or is a primary caregiver. Parenting time means time with a child. Contact time or contact describes what is often short or limited contact between a child with someone who is not the child’s parent or significant caregiver.

 

1.       What is 'change in residence', 'relocation' or ‘mobility’?

2.       Do I need permission to move with my child to change the child’s local residence?

3.       You need permission to relocate when it will have a significant impact on the child’s parenting time with others.

4.       What are the notice rules and steps to relocate?

          a.       60 days notice

          b.       Delivering the written notice

          c.       30 days to object to a planned relocation

                                 i.           Who can object

                               ii.            There are two ways to object

          d.       Will the move happen? Specific best interests factors for relocation

          e.       Who has the job (burden) of proving a move is in the child’s best interests or not?

          f.        When notice might not be required?

          g.       Costs to exercise parenting time

          h.       When can the planned relocation go ahead?

5.       Do I need to have permission to move or relocate without my child?

 

1. What is 'change in residence', 'relocation' or ‘mobility’?

 

‘Change in residence’ and ‘relocation’ is when a parent or guardian plans to move, either on their own or with a child. This issue is sometimes called ‘mobility.’

There are two types of moves:

  • Change in residence

This is a ‘smaller’ move – one that does not affect parenting time or contact with the child.  The current parenting schedule will still work after the move.

  • Relocation

This is a more substantial move that is likely to have a significant impact on the child’s relationship with a parent, guardian, or person who has an order for contact with the child. For example, it is a relocation if the move would mean the current parenting schedule will no longer work.

 

2. Do I need permission to change the child’s local residence?

 

If you have a court order or agreement that talks about changing the child’s local residence you must follow it and do what it says to do before you move. 

If your move will not have a significant impact on the child’s parenting time or contact with the other caregivers then you do not need permission to move, unless your court order or agreements says something different.

But you must give written notice to the other caregivers before your move. This makes sure that everyone has up to date information about where each person who has parenting time or contact with a child lives.

Your written notice of the move must include:

  • the date of the planned move

  • the new address or location

  • any other new contact information for the child or person who is moving

 

3. You need permission to relocate when it will have a significant impact on the child’s parenting time with others.

 

If the planned relocation will have a significant impact on parenting arrangements or contact time with the child:

  1. in most cases you will need permission to relocate from the child’s other significant caregiver (anyone who has parenting time or decision-making responsibility).

  2. you must give written notice of the planned relocation to anyone who has parenting time, decision-making responsibility or contact. 

  3. you must give notice whether you plan to relocate with the child, or on your own (without the child).    

You do not need permission to relocate from a person who has contact time with the child, but you must give them notice of the planned move.

If you have a court order or agreement you must follow it and do what it says to do before you move. 

You may face possible criminal charges if you move your child without permission, written agreement, or a court order allowing you to move the child.

 

4. What are the notice rules and steps to relocate?

 

If family violence is a concern then the following rules may not apply. It is very important to receive legal advice about the impact of family violence on a planned relocation.

 

a. 60 days’ written notice

If you plan to relocate, with or without your child, you must give 60 days’ written notice to anyone who has decision-making responsibility, parenting time, or contact.  

The written notice must include:

  • the date of the planned move

  • the new address or location

  • any other new contact information for the child or person who is moving

  • a new proposal for how parenting time, decision-making responsibility, or contact could happen if the move goes ahead.

There is a form you may use to provide notice here.  While this form is to give notice for cases under the Divorce Act you can also use it if your case is under the Parenting and Support Act. It is important to make sure that you provide notice of your planned relocation.  The form has all of the required information.

 

b. Delivering the written notice

You must give the written notice of relocation to the other parent, significant caregiver, and anyone with an order for contact time by, for example: email, courier, in person, or by personal service.

If the matter goes to court, you will have to prove to the judge that the other party got actual notice. Keep proof of having delivered the notice and any response you get. For example, save the courier receipt, or email showing that the notice was sent and acknowledged by the recipient.

If you deliver the notice in person, and if the other party is willing, have them sign an acknowledgment of getting the notice. You should not deliver the notice in person if there is a history of high conflict or violence with the other party.

Notice gives everyone a chance to discuss the planned move and try to work things out.

If everyone cannot agree, an objection can be sent to the other person and can be filed in court as long as this is done within 30 days after notice is received, or as approved by the court. If you get notice of objection to the move you should not move until there is an agreement or a court order. 

 

c. 30 days to disagree with a planned relocation

A person with parenting time or decision-making responsibility and who gets notice of a planned relocation, has 30 days to disagree with the relocation.  This is called ‘objecting’.

 

          i. Who can object:

Anyone who has significant decision-making responsibility and/or parenting time with a child can object to the planned relocation.

If the relocation does not include the child then a notice of objection does not apply. If new parenting arrangements are needed then the parents and caregivers should try to work it out. If not, then a court application may be filed.

A person with a contact order cannot object to a planned relocation. If new contact arrangements are needed then the parents and caregivers should try to work it out. If not, then a court application may be filed.

If the other significant caregiver does not object, the move may go ahead, unless there is a court order or written and signed agreement that says differently.  

 

          ii. Two ways to object:

(1.) write to the person and explain why you object to the planned relocation

You may use this form to explain your objection to a planned relocation. While this form is to give notice for cases under the Divorce Act, you can also use it if your case is under the Parenting and Support Act. It is important to make sure that you provide notice of your objection.  The form has all of the required information.

The objection should:

  • say there is an objection,

  • say why you do not agree with the planned move, and

  • give your views on the new proposal for parenting time, decision-making or contact in the notice of relocation.

If you do not object, the move may go ahead, unless there is a court order or written and signed agreement that says differently.

You must give the written notice of objection to the other parent, significant caregivers or anyone with an order for contact time by, for example: email, courier, in person, or personal service. If the matter goes to court, you will have to prove to the judge that the other party got actual notice. Keep proof of having delivered the notice and any response you receive. For example, save the courier receipt, or email showing the notice was sent and acknowledged by the recipient.

If you deliver the notice in person, and if the other party is willing, have them sign an acknowledgment of getting the notice. You should not deliver the notice in person if there is a history of high conflict or violence with the other party.

If you file a court application to stop the relocation then follow the directions for service (giving notice) of the court application as directed by the court.

 

(2.) to stop the move, apply to court to have the case heard by a judge.

If you are worried that the other person will move with the child, or if they have already left with the child, then you may file a court application. Explain the issues clearly in your court application and if it is urgent to have your case heard by a judge.

 

d. Will the move happen? Specific best interests factors for relocation

Is a planned move in the child’s best interests? The court must think about specific factors when deciding whether a planned relocation of a child should happen.  These include:

  • the reasons for the relocation

  • how the relocation would affect the child

  • the amount of time the child spends with each person who has parenting time, and their involvement in the child’s life

  • whether there is a court order or agreement that says the child must live in a specific geographic area

  • whether proposed changes to parenting time, decision-making responsibilities or contact after a planned move are reasonable

  • whether the parties have followed their family law obligations (for example, have they followed the current order?)

  • did the person who is planning to move follow the rules for notice.

These specific factors are in addition to other best interest factors in the Divorce Act or Parenting and Support Act. No single factor will decide the case.

 

e. Who has the job (burden) of proving a move is in the child’s best interests or not?

The rules about who has the job of proving that a move should happen or not, called the ‘burden of proof’, are complicated.  It is best to talk with a lawyer.

In general:

Parenting Time Arrangement: Burden of Proof is on:
‘Substantially equal’ parenting time Parent who plans to relocate to show why move is in child’s best interests
Relocating parent has ‘vast majority’ of parenting time Parent who opposes the relocation to show why move is not in child’s best interests
Any other parenting time arrangement Each parent must show why the planned move is, or is not, in the child’s best interests

 

f. When notice might not be required - safety concerns

In some limited situations a court may order that notice of a planned relocation is not required, or may change the normal notice requirements.  For example, if there is family violence the court might say notice is not required, or might shorten the notice period and say it is not appropriate for the other parent to know the location of the child’s or other parent’s new residence if the relocation is approved.

It is best to talk with a lawyer right away if it is believed there is a situation where the notice requirements should not apply or should be changed.

You may face possible criminal charges if you move your child without permission, written agreement, or a court order allowing you to move the child.

 

g. Costs to exercise parenting time

If the move is authorized then the court may look at the costs to exercise parenting time. The costs may be shared between the person relocating with the child and the person who is not.

 

h. When can the planned relocation go ahead?

When the relocation is authorized by the court, or

  1. A person who has parenting time or decision-making responsibilities received notice and has not objected within 30 days to the relocation and

  2. there is no order prohibiting the relocation. 

 

5. Do I need to have permission to move and/or relocate without my child?

 

If you are going to move locally, or relocate to another community, without your child then you still need to give notice to the other caregivers before you move. This makes sure that everyone has up to date information about where each person who has parenting time, or a person who has contact time, with a child lives. If you are planning to move to another community you may want to have new arrangements in place before you move to make sure you will be able to continue your relationship with your child. Your child support obligations may also need to be updated due to increased costs to continue that relationship after the move.

If you have a court order or agreement in place you must follow what it says.

 

Further information about relocation:

Fact Sheet: Moving after Separation or Divorce

Notice of Relocation Form

Objection to Relocation Form

Notice of change in place of residence: Person with Contact