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International Relocation: The new laws are tested

Justice Dessau has determined an international relocation case following the changes stemming from the Family Law Amendment (Shared Parental Responsibility) Act 2006.

In M andS(2007) FLC 93-313, Dessau J allowed a mother to relocate to the United Kingdom for three years with O, the parties' eight-year-old daughter.

The mother lived in Melbourne and the father lived in Canberra. O lived with the mother and spent time with the father for two weekends during the school term and half the school holidays. The father opposed the mother's application to relocate to the UK and sought to increase his time with the child from two weekends to three weekends per school term.

It was agreed that whether O lived in Melbourne or in the UK, neither the concept of equal time nor substantial and significant time was reasonably practicable, and the determination was to be made in accordance with the child's best interests.

Dessau J followed the pathway outlined in Goode andGoode(2006) FLC 93-286 and concluded that O's best interests remain paramount even above her mother's freedom of movement and found that it was in O's best interests to relocate to the UK with her mother. Both parties were in a financial position to facilitate O spending two blocks of three weeks with the father in Australia and three weeks with the father in the UK.

O was used to a long-distance relationship with her father and was familiar with communication tools such as MSN and Skype.

Dessau J noted that there is nothing in the new legislation which explicitly alters the previous approach to relocation except, as the Full Court outlined in Goode
Edited

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