Sometimes, even when parents have already settled parenting matters or have had a Court order issued by a Judge at the Provincial Court of Alberta or a Justice at the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, circumstances may change. What this can entail is a Material Change in Circumstance. This is often the case for clients when one of parent needs to move from their current home due to a new career, partnership, or to be closer to extended family due to additional financial and socio-economic supports.
There have been new amendments to the Divorce Act, which while initially planned to take effect as of July 1, 2020, have been delayed further into the future. These very likely will come into force at a later date and will effectively codify what a parent who has parenting time and/or decision-making authority for the child must do when he or she learns that there is the possibility of an impending relocation of a child’s residence.
While not yet in full force and effect, clients should be turning their minds to the following essential elements that will be asked if a matter of mobility is questioned in a contested application for relocating a child out of their current city, province, or even country that they reside:
- Was written notice of the intention to relocate with child(ren) provided?
- Were reasons provided to the non-moving parent to support why the move will benefit the child(ren)?
- Did the parent intending to move provide new contact information for the parent who resides in the current jurisdiction?
- What is the effective date of the proposed move?
- How has the parent who intends to relocate addressed the issue of the other parent’s parenting time and what affect the move may have on this parenting time?
- Does the move fundamentally change the structure of parenting in the sense of one party being the primary parent and one party have access / parenting time vs. parents that are in a
shared parenting regime?
The current proposed and presently differed new rules for the Divorce Act specify that the parent who is moving outside the local community (jurisdiction) with their child, or intends on a change of the geographical residence of the child that would create a “significant impact” to the other parent and their access to their child, must provide at least sixty (60) days’ notice of the intention for the move. Along with the above list of items , the parent planning the relocation must provide in his or her proposal a revised parenting plan indicating how the parenting time, decision making, and contact with the child will change.
It is suggested that a “significant impact” may even include those moves that parents may make within the same city or urban area. In these cases, the relocation may make access difficult in nature, such as increasing travel time significantly or covering then a large geographical distance that did not exist prior to the move. For example, a move from the Montgomery area in the northwest Calgary to Mackenzie Towne area in the south of Calgary may very well be viewed as a now codified threshold for a significant impact to a parent’s ability to have access to their child under the new proposed Divorce Act amendments.
If a parent receives written notice from the other parent wishing to relocate with the child and wishes to object to the relocation, the non-moving parent needs to respond in writing within 30 days to the parent proposing the relocation of the residence of their child. The response should confirm clearly state the following:
- Their objection to the notice of intention to relocate with the child(ren) to a new local community (jurisdiction)
- The reason for the objection, with as much rationale for the socio-economic supports that exist for that child presently in their local community (jurisdiction);
- The parent’s alternative plan or response to the proposed new parenting plan that accounts for the Child either continuing to reside in the current local community (jurisdiction) and/or
if the child was to move to the new proposed local community (jurisdiction).
At Family Central Law Office LLP, we can assist you in the steps forward in mobility cases that focus on supporting the best interests of your child and that the best practices laid out in the proposed amendments of the Divorce Act, and case law surrounding the issue of mobility cases are carefully factored into your own family law matter. To learn more about your rights and the legal services we provide, please contact us today for a free consultation with one of our experienced family lawyers by calling our office at 587-392-7970 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by clicking on our consultation page.