Parent’s interests v Child’s interests

15 MAR 2023


George & Dixon [2022] FedCFamC2F 1647

In this matter, the Mother made an application to have the Child relocate with her to Adelaide where she would have the support of her extended family. The Father of the Child opposed the relocation as his extended family support is in Melbourne.

The parties have had a shared care arrangement in effect where the Child would spend 5 nights a fortnight with the Father. The parties have been co-parenting to a high standard regardless of the differences the parties have between them. The expert psychologist in this case commented on their relationship as ‘one of the most functional co-parenting relationship' that the expert had seen in their 20 years experiences in working with complex families.

The reasons behind why the Mother wanted to relocate herself and the Child to Adelaide is because the Mother wishes to be with her family who are located in Adelaide. The Father has the support of his extended family, has a new partner to which they are engaged and is happy with his current employment. Due to being split from her family living in Adelaide and living in Melbourne where she does not want to, the Mother has developed a sense of a lack of agency and empowerment. The Mother would benefit in the relocation as her employer is based in Adelaide and would benefit from working in an office environment with her colleagues instead of a remote-working arrangement. The Mother’s mental health suffered a decline during the Melbourne’s Covid lockdowns which lasted to at least August 2021. The Mother suffered from a mental health crisis in August 2021 where she was depressed and a feeling of being overwhelmed. She received professional assistance for her mental health crisis. The expert psychologists noted that the Mother would benefit from the relocation which would have a benefiting trickle-down effect on the Child.

Judge Harland in his decision had to consider the benefits and disadvantages of each parties’ applications. If the Mother’s Application for relocation is successful, the Mother would be happier and fulfilled which would benefit the Child. The Child also benefit from being able to spend time with the Mother’s extended family. However, the Child would lose current benefit of having an ad hoc arrangement with the Father and his extended family. In his judgement, Judge Harland commented on the parties’ active involvement in long-term decision making for the Child and active involvement to spending time and communicating with the Child. Judge Harland considered in his judgement the significant adjustments that the Child would have to make if they relocated to Adelaide with the Mother. Upon considering other factors such as the Mother’s working arrangements, financial circumstances of the parties and Father’s travelling to and from Adelaide and working arrangements, Judge Harland decided to deny the Mother’s Application for relocation. This is because Judge Harland decided it would not be in the best interest of the Child to relocate since the Child would lose the benefit having both of the parents being actively involved and immersed in their daily life.


The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice, Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.


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