It’s not unusual after a couple separates that one party may chose to move to a different place. This is especially true for women who are trying to put distance between themselves an abusive ex-partner.
The Divorce Act and Children’s Law Reform Act are the laws that govern relocating. They contain very specific rules for what parents need to do if they want to move, either with or without their children. Changes to the Divorce Act and the CLRA were implemented in 2021. The following information reflects the revised laws.
Does it matter how far away I’m moving with the children?
There are different rules depending on the impact of the move on the children’s time with their other parent, which is usually a result of how far you are moving from the other parent.
Change of residence refers to a move that will not have a major impact on the children’s relationship with the other parent as well as any other people who have a contact order allowing them to spend time with the children (e.g. grandparents); for example, a move within the same city or town or a move of only a short distance in a rural community.
Relocation refers to a move that will have a significant impact on the children’s relationship with these same people; in particular, if it will affect the other parent’s ability to have the parenting time with the children that is already in place. While this definition will generally apply to long-distance moves, it could also apply to a move within a large city, if that will make it difficult for the other parent to have their parenting time with the children.
What do I do if I want to make a “change of residence”?
For a change of residence, whether with or without your children, you must provide the other parent with written notice that says when you will be moving and what your new address will be, as well as any other new contact information (for example, a new telephone number or email address).
This is simply a notification to the other parent so they know where you will be living and the date you will be living there. They do not have to consent to your move.
What do I do if I want to “relocate”?
The process for a relocation is more involved, because this is a move that will have an impact on the other parent’s ability to continue spending time with the children.
You need to provide the other parent and anyone who has a contact order allowing them to spend time with your children with at least 60 days’ written notice. This notice must include:
- The date of your planned move
- Your new address
- A proposal for how the parenting/contact time arrangement in place can be adjusted to accommodate your move.
You can provide this notice using a Notice of Relocation Form, which your lawyer will complete or, if you don’t have a lawyer, your Family Court Support Worker can assist you with.
If they agree: If the children’s other parent and/or people who spend time with your children under a contact order agree with your plan to relocate with the children, then you can move, unless the existing parenting order or agreement prohibits you from doing so.
If they do not agree: If any of these people do not agree with your plan to relocate with the children, they must file a formal objection within 30 days of receiving your notice. They can do this by filing an Objection to Relocation Form or by applying to the court to stop you from relocating. If this happens, you cannot move with the children until there is an order from the court allowing you to.
What if a parent without the children moves?
The rules also apply to a move by a parent that does not involve the children. For example, if the children live with the mother and have regular parenting time with the father, there are steps the father must take if he plans to move.
If the parent without the children plans to make a change of residence or relocation, they must provide the other parent with written notice that says when they will be moving, what their new address will be as well as any other new contact information (for example, a new telephone number or email address).
If you or your former partner are moving without your children, whether that is a change of residence or a relocation, the court cannot stop you from moving, even if the children’s other parent does not agree with your plan to move.
Watch for our next blog post which will look at how a court decides about relocating children.