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VIC Ex-Wife and Daughter Moving Further Away - Options Under Family Law

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Rob1969, 5 August 2016.

  1. Rob1969

    Rob1969 Member

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    My ex-wife and I are divorced and completed property settlement in 2012. We have an 11-year-old daughter that I see every second weekend (would have been more frequent, but I live in Caulfield and they live in Hoppers Crossing, so mid-week stays are impractical). There are no formal agreements, court orders, etc.

    Without prior consultation or agreement, my ex-wife has informed me she has purchased a property in Heathcote and will be moving there shortly with my daughter. Heathcote is approx 130km from my home, approx 1hour and 50 minutes in evening traffic. My ex-wife is wanting me to meet for a handover in Thomastown, which she says is about half-way time-wise between Heathcote and Caulfield. It will take longer to/from Thomastown than it currently takes to/from Hoppers Crossing, plus this would see me travelling twice as frequently, i.e. for both pick-up and drop-off, rather than the current arrangement where one of us does pick-up and one of us does drop-off. I.e. her proposal would require the fortnightly number of kilometers and time spent in car more than doubling.

    The move to Heathcote is discretionary (based on a desire to live in the country), and I was not consulted about it. It feels to me that my ex-wife should bear the extra travel burden of this discretionary move. Can anyone help on whether I have any legal basis under family law to compel my ex-wife to do this?

    Regards,
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Tricky situation, which I think should be considered with perspective, more than anything.

    Legally, you share equally in parental responsibility, which means you have joint say about major long-term decisions affecting the child, including where the child lives and what school the child attends. In terms of proceedings, what it means is that you can pursue disputes about major long-term decisions in Court, and the Court will determine the best option based on what it determines is in the best interests of the child.

    So, summarily, you can definitely pursue proceedings for the relocation, but the question, I think, is should you?

    In my view, I don't think it's worth it.

    The key reason that I say this is because of the matter of consent.

    When a parent doesn't consent to a relocation, they will ordinarily file an application for a relocation order to have the other parent move back to the original location. In your circumstances, I don't think this would succeed, because whether the mother lives in the town of origin or the town where she has purchased property, it sounds like alternate weekends is the practical option in either scenario, so the move wouldn't fundamentally impede on your time with the child anyway.

    I think you're already reasonably aware of this, so it sounds like you've consented to the move, just not who should wear the burden of additional travel, but it's a lot more difficult to argue that travel shouldn't be divided down the middle when you've basically already consented to the move itself and the move doesn't impede on the child's actual time with either parent. Basically, if the Court were to hear this matter from scratch, I think it would either uphold the practice of one parent doing the pick-up and the other parent doing the drop-off, or I think it would order that changeover is to take place at a location halfway between the two towns.

    Of course, the situation isn't ideal, but this is what I mean when I think it should be considered with perspective. I think it'll cost a lot of money to take this one to Court with a fairly low chance of success, and as with any family law matter, it runs the risk of rupturing what is clearly a very good and co-operative parenting relationship.

    You might want to follow a different path, of course, but I think it's really important to weigh the pros and cons of all legal action, particularly where the matter in dispute is fairly trivial (for lack of a better word) in the greater scheme of things.
     
  3. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    You're on a hiding to nothing. Best suggestion I can give- communicate to the ex that if she wants to move, that is fine but you fail to see how that should impact on the amount of time you spend on the road. As a compromise, offer to meet 1/3 of the way between the two locations.

    If she says no, then toughen up or risk not seeing your kid.
     
  4. Rob1969

    Rob1969 Member

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    Many thanks for your responses.

    The extra travelling involved will reduce the amount of time I am able to spend with my daughter on the weekends that I get to see her by maybe a couple of hours. On one hand, not a huge amount, but in the context of the distances involved meaning that it is not practical to be able to see her more than every second weekend, every hour counts. Having said that, whilst I haven't explicitly agreed to the move, I don't see any attempt to stop it being practical or likely to succeed anyway.

    Hence I'm maintaining a practical perspective on this, but at the same time feel important to understand how the law views this ... recognising that the legal situation is one thing, and the practicalities are another. In particular, I'm keen to understand whether there are previous cases that might provide good guidance / precedents.
     
  5. sammy01

    sammy01 Well-Known Member

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    Yep, staying practical is the key...

    So what about this you want an extra weekend every 6 weeks? So you get two consecutive weekends half way through each school term.

    I'd be trying to get consent orders to make it harder for her to screw you over.
     

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