What is interim relocation? Can I just move without giving any notice?

Above are common questions I am asked by clients. I am involved in a matter now where the opposing party has moved from Surrey to Vancouver with the Children. Is this a relocation?

The Family Law Act defines relocation as:

65 (1) In this Division, “relocation”means a change in the location of the residence of a child or child’s guardian that can reasonably be expected to have a significant impact on the child’s relationship with

(a) a guardian, or

(b) one or more other persons having a significant role in the child’s life.

(2) This Division applies if

(a) a child’s guardian plans to relocate himself or herself or the child, or both, and

(b) a written agreement or an order respecting parenting arrangements or contact with the child applies to the child.

The definition of relocation does not suggest the distance of a move. It states a change in location that can be reasonably expected to have a significant impact on the child’s relationship with a guardian or other people who have a significant role in the child’s life. Short answer to whether a move from Surrey to Vancouver is a relocation is yes it could very well fall within the definition of a relocation.

The next question people ask if whether one can relocate with a child without a Trial. The law on this area says:

1. The Respondent’s desire to relocate should not be decided on an interim application. It should rather be addressed at trial, along with custody, as this Honourable Court found in a similar application to relocate children to Vernon from the Lower Mainland [D.R.K. v. S.G.G., 2013 BCSC 2107]

2. An interim order allowing the Respondent to move would have the effect of a final order and interim proceedings are not geared for final determination of issues. An interim determination on the merits is especially difficult where there is conflicting affidavit evidence on the factors to be considered when assessing children’s best interests [D.R.K.]

3. Relocation is one of the most serious decisions a court is asked to make. It can have a lifelong impact on a child and his or her relationship with a non-moving parent. When granted at an interim stage, it can be tantamount to a final order [Nolie v. Reece, 2016 BCSC 2201]

4. The authorities indicate courts are reluctant to consider relocation applications at the interim stage particularly where the move would significantly reduce the non-moving parent’s time with the child [Nolie v. Reece].

5. Relocation should be considered at a trial where more fulsome evidence can be presented. Testimony can be tested by cross-examination and the trial judge can properly assess the credibility and reliability of the witnesses’ evidence [Nolie v. Reece}

6. It is usual in mobility cases for an order preventing relocation of children to continue until trial, as there are issues pertaining to the best interests of children requiring further evidence before it can best be determined where children should reside [K.D.T. v. J.W.C., 2012 BCPC 44. 

Call a lawyer before relocating and get some advice on this area of law. Courts can order a child to be returned if the relocation is found to not follow the provisions of the Family Law Act.