I want to move, but can I take the kids?

Relationships (Family)

After a separation a situation can arise where one parent wants to move to a location away from the other and take the children with them, however this can be a complicated issue to resolve.

If separated parents live in the same area, a situation can arise where one of the parents, who has primary or shared care of the children, wants to move elsewhere within New Zealand, or even overseas. Can that parent take the children as well?

This is an issue that often comes before the Court. The question about where the children live, in terms of moving to a new location which is at a distance, is a guardianship decision. Therefore both parents need to agree, even if the other parent only has the children every second weekend for example. If both parents can not agree and the other parent still wishes to move, that parent has to apply to the Court to get the Court’s permission to be able to take the children to live elsewhere.

In looking at the matter, the Court will consider a number of factors, but the overarching one is whether such a move is in the best interests and welfare of the children.

The Court will consider the reasons for the move – for example,

  • is it necessitated by the parent entering into a new relationship with someone who lives elsewhere, or

  • is it necessary to transfer for employment reasons, or

  • is it just a lifestyle choice?

The Court will need to consider the reduced contact the children will have with the other parent if they move.

Each case will take into consideration its own particular circumstances, but at the end of the day if the Court decides the children can not move, the parent who wishes to move has to consider whether to move, leaving the children behind, or whether to remain.

If you would like more information regarding this or any other relationship matters, please do not hesitate to contact our expert Relationships Team, we will be happy to assist.

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