Relocating with a child after separation or divorce

Relocating can be a fun and exciting new beginning however, it is one that can be made complicated when there are children involved. If you are reading this blog it is likely because you are considering a move. Your move may be sparked by a want to be closer to family, a new job opportunity, or perhaps just because you want a fresh start. On the other hand, maybe you have been notified that your child’s other parent is intending to relocate. In either case, you are probably wondering what your rights and obligations are as a parent and are looking for some assistance navigating this situation.


What you should know if you’re thinking of relocating

As a parent wanting to relocate your first step would be to provide notice of your intention. Notice must be given at least 60 days prior to the date that you intend to relocate and must be given to anyone who has:

  • Parenting time with the child
  • Decision-making responsibility of the child
  • A contact order with the child (i.e. a grandparent)

The notice must include specific information regarding your relocation. For example, one of the requirements is a proposed plan on how parenting time, decision-making, or contact will be handled once the relocation transpires. An experienced family lawyer can assist you with drafting your notice and proposal and ensuring that it complies with the requirements set out in the Divorce Act.


Objecting to a relocation you have been given notice of

Once notice has been served any party who has received the notice will have 30 days to respond and object to the relocation. If a party chooses to object the objection must be made in accordance with the requirements set out in the Act – either via the prescribed form or by an application to the court.



There are some situations that allow for an exception to the notice requirement. One example is where there is the risk of family violence. In a situation like this an application may be made to the court for authorization to relocate without notice. If you believe that this may be right for your situation a lawyer can assist you with assessing your case and drafting an application.


Best interest of the child 

Whether the court has received an objection to a notice of relocation or they have received an application to proceed without notice they will need to make a final determination on the relocation. When making this decision the court will proceed based on what is in the child’s best interest. This may seem like a vague statement however; the court has a number of factors that they must take into consideration. Some of these factors include:

  • Why the relocation is taking place
  • How the relocation will impact the child
  • The amount of time spent with and the involvement of each those individuals with parenting time
  • Whether or not the person seeking relocation has complied with the applicable laws and requirements (i.e. notice)
  • Whether or not a written agreement exists specifying the area in which the child should live (i.e. an existing parenting plan or order)

If you are considering a relocation or if you have been served with notice of a relocation that will impact your current parenting arrangements Hayes-Fry law can help. Our team of family and divorce lawyers have extensive experience working with parties as they navigate the Alberta family court system and work to move their lives forward. Give our office a call today at 780.831.7370 or email to book a consultation with one of our family and divorce lawyers.


The following resources were relied on in the preparation of this blog:

  1. Divorce Act, R.S.C., 1985, c, 3 (2nd Supp.)