Parents in British Columbia may need to revisit their child custody and visitation arrangements if the one with guardianship over the child is relocating. The province’s Family Law Act contains a number of specific provisions that cover relocation, which is defined as a change in residence that has an impact on the child’s relationship with a guardian or anyone else whose role in the child’s life is important. Guardians who are planning to relocate themselves or a child must give 60 days’ written notice unless there are special circumstances such as a risk of incurring violence.
Even with notice given by the guardian, a court may prohibit a child’s relocation. It will weigh several factors, including how well the guardian is working with others close to the child to maintain their relationship and the reason for the relocation. For example, the court may consider whether the guardian will have significant education or employment opportunities that will enhance his or her life and therefore the well-being of the child. In all cases, the child’s best interests are the top consideration although sometimes the well-being of the parent is directly connected.
If the court does agree to the relocation, it may be necessary to revise child custody and visitation agreements. The court will consider it important to ensure that the child is able to maintain relationships with significant individuals in his or her life.
Parents who are dealing with relocation and issues of child custody may wish to work with a lawyer. A lawyer may be able to assist a guardian who wishes to relocate with putting together a compelling case for the relocation or assist individuals who are not relocating with ensuring that their access to the child is preserved. With a lawyer, guardians may be able to negotiate a solution that is satisfactory to everyone.