After a divorce, the parties may coordinate to co-parent their children, even if they live primarily with one of the parents. Parenting schedules can take many forms, depending on the parties’ circumstances. In some cases, there may be shared parenting where both parties play a significant role in the children’s lives. This arrangement can make it difficult when one of the parents wants to relocate with the children because it will impact the other parent’s parenting time with the children. In some cases, a relocation application may even be denied if there are no reasonable plans to allow the other parent to continue shared parenting of the children, as was the case in DG v RC, 2024 ABCJ 29.

In this post, we will discuss what can happen if a parent wants to relocate with the children but there is shared parenting of the children between the parties. We will discuss shared parenting, the key factors for relocating with children, and the role of shared parenting in that analysis. We will also go through a case example, the DG case, where, despite the mother’s efforts in finding support systems in the proposed destination for the move, her relocation application was denied, as it would prevent the father from continuing his significant role in the children’s lives, which was not in their best interests. This post will provide important takeaways for parties facing a possible relocation.

What is considered shared parenting?

Shared parenting can take different forms, mainly when the parties spend almost equal time with the children. For example, one parent may spend 3 days with the children, and the other parent may spend time with the children during the remaining 4 days of the week. In other cases, each parent may spend the full week with the children and switch the following week. If the children are still in school, parties may split up the children’s vacation time equally or have the children spend summer break with one parent and winter break with the other.

Depending on the arrangement, shared parenting can impact whether or not a parent can relocate with the children.

What are the factors for relocating with a child?

When deciding whether to grant a relocation request from a parent, the court will holistically consider a wide range of factors. Overall, the court must place the child’s best interests at the forefront based on the following factors:

  1. The child’s needs, given the child’s age and development stage, including their need for stability;
  2. The nature and strength of the child’s relationship with each parent, the child’s siblings, grandparents, and any other person that plays an important role in their life;
  3. Each parent’s willingness to support the development and maintenance of the child’s relationship with the other parent;
  4. The history and care of the child;
  5. The child’s views and preferences, given their age and maturity;
  6. The child’s cultural, linguistic, religious, and spiritual upbringing and heritage, including Indigenous upbringing and heritage;
  7. Plans for the child’s care in the current location compared to the relocation destination;
  8. The ability and willingness of each parent to care for and meet the needs of the child;
  9. The ability and willingness of each parent to communicate and cooperate with each other on matters affecting the child;
  10. Any family violence and its impact on the ability and willingness of the party who engaged in family violence to care for and meet the needs of the children, as well as how the parties can cooperate in light of the family violence;
  11. Whether there are any civil or criminal proceedings, orders, conditions, or measures relevant to the safety, security, and well-being of the child;
  12. The reasons for the relocation;
  13. The amount of time that each parent spends with the child, and how involved they are in the child’s life;
  14. How reasonable the relocation proposal is with respect to varying parenting time, decision-making responsibility, etc. given the location of the new residence and travel expenses.

What is the role of shared parenting when a parent is seeking a relocation?

If a party is very involved in the children’s lives through shared parenting, it may weigh in favour of denying the relocation if the location is very far, and it is not feasible for that parent to continue exercising their parenting time without incurring significant costs. In shared parenting regimes, the court may find relocation inappropriate if shared parenting can no longer continue to the same degree after the move, or it would place significant obstacles for the non-moving parent to spend time with the children.

Mother’s Application for Relocation Denied For Inability to Maintain Father’s Shared Parenting

In the DG case, the mother applied to relocate with the children from Peace River to Sherwood Park in Alberta. The parties lived together for five years and had a child together. The mother also had a child from her previous relationship. At the time of trial, the children were aged 5 and 10.

After the parties separated in 2019, both children primarily resided with the father during the summer of 2019. Then, after the mother found a new place to live, the parties shared parenting of the children on a week-on, week-off basis. The father continued caring for the youngest child every other week and the older child every other week until 2020. He mainly had every second weekend with the older child and consistently sought more time with the older child. Given his flexible working schedule, he also spent every day with the children at daycare.

The mother sought to relocate to be closer to the children’s grandmother and step-grandfather, where she would be provided with more support. Both of the children required special needs support.

The court found that moving with the children at their ages would be disruptive. In particular, the father spent regular time with the children, which would be significantly reduced if the children moved. The court found that both parties could meet the children’s needs, but the mother appeared less willing to communicate with the father as she would only provide minimal information about the children, including regarding medical appointments.

Given these considerations, the mother’s relocation application was dismissed.

Calgary Family Lawyers Assisting With Mobility Rights and Child Relocation Matters

It is often contentious if a parent seeks to relocate with the children, as it can significantly impact their relationship with the non-moving party. The court must also consider many factors that can complicate one’s divorce case. If you want to relocate with your children, you should speak with our family law lawyers at Mincher Koeman, who are experienced in assisting parties with relocation. Our Calgary family law lawyers are dedicated to finding the best resolution for your parenting issues after divorce.

To book a consultation, please contact us online or by phone at 403-910-3000.

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