Moving interstate or overseas

If you have children from a previous relationship, there may come a time when you want to move interstate, overseas or somewhere else that will affect the other parent's time with your children.

You may be the parent wanting to move, or you may be the parent resisting the move. Whatever the situation, both parents must abide by specific laws.

These laws also apply to taking children on holiday (even interstate),  finding missing children and returning internationally abducted children. Some of these laws are complicated. If you find yourself in this situation, you may need to take urgent legal action.

If you are planning to move or even go on a holiday, you must first make a genuine effort to come to an agreement with the other parent. If the situation becomes too difficult, and you cannot agree, you may find you need highly-skilled, independent legal advice to help you work through your differences, so you can make the best decisions for you and your family’s future.

With knowledge of the law and the practical know-how to apply it, your Jones Mitchell family lawyer will work with you to identify the most appropriate approach to resolve your differences quickly – whether it is negotiation or specific alternate dispute resolution approaches such as mediationarbitration, or early neutral evaluation; or in suitable cases a collaborative law approach. Only if necessary and when all other approaches are exhausted or inappropriate would we use our litigation experience and resources and go to court.

We will listen to your individual situation, and no matter how complex, navigate you through the maze of legal requirements including international laws such as the Hague Convention, child support agreements, parenting plans, consent orders, and parenting orders.

If conflict and emotions are high, you may find it more difficult to make important decisions and effectively problem solve. Children are particularly vulnerable and they can experience extreme stress if parents are unable to resolve conflict. During these times, we recommend you see a psychologist or relationships counsellor. Talk to your Jones Mitchell family lawyer if you would like a recommendation.

Case study – Lisa, 35, wants to move interstate

Lisa is the primary carer of her two children – aged five and 11 – from her first marriage. Recently re-married and now pregnant, her new husband owns and runs a fruit growing farm in Armidale, NSW, and she plans to permanently relocate her children from Brisbane to live with her there. He ex-husband currently sees his children for three nights every second weekend and has said he will fight her to stop them going. Living in Brisbane as an IT specialist, he cannot relocate. And he knew this would mean a big change in the amount and quality of time he spends with his children.

Jones Mitchell worked with Lisa to resolve her previous property settlement. Knowing this would be a very difficult case which could go either way if presented in court, Jones Mitchell knew a case like this required thinking ‘outside the box’ to prepare a solution that will best work for everyone – Lisa, her new husband, the new baby, the children, and their father.

Fully understanding that there are no winners in a case like this, Jones Mitchell focussed on crafting a solution that is in the children’s best interests. On one hand, Lisa’s happiness directly impacts the happiness of her children, so going as a family to Armidale, where they will have stability with a new baby on the way, access to good schools, and a lovely home environment would be positive for the children. However, they will miss out on the constant contact with and influence of their father, who very much wants to be a part of their lives.

Through clever crafting, Jones Mitchell prepared for mediation and demonstrated that there was no perfect solution. They provided evidence to support the various scenarios and were able to get both parties to recognise that each other were giving up something. As it seemed the children’s father was giving up more, the mother offered to pay for the children’s flights to visit their father and for the father to have more time with the children over school holidays. She also offered to pay for the children to fly to see their father on a weekend mid-school term. Reluctantly, the father agreed in mediation asking for the children to be flown up twice a term. They also agreed to have regular Skype and phone communication.

If you have children and are thinking about moving interstate or overseas and would like more information, visit our FAQs or contact us to speak with one of our experienced Jones Mitchell family lawyers.


Please note: Although this case study is based on a potentially real situation, it is hypothetical and is for illustrative purposes only. Every family law situation is unique. Consequently, our family law advice is tailored to each situation and individual outcomes will vary.