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When people separate or divorce, it’s not uncommon for one of the parties to look to move away. That’s usually not something that requires discussion. But when children are involved, and one of the parents wants to move, that’s when the courts may have to decide whether such a move is in the best interests of the child. In a recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, a mother wanted to move from Ontario to Alberta, but the father wanted the child to stay in Ontario.

Mother looks to move West

The situation involved two parents who began living together in 2012 and had their child in 2014. In 2018 the family moved to Brockville, Ontario where they both found employment. The mother’s mother and stepfather live in Jasper, Alberta. Meanwhile, her father lives in Ottawa with his new partner, as does her brother. The father’s parents both live in Brockville.

The parties separated in the fall of 2020, and currently live under the same roof while they continue to parent the child together. The mother is looking to relocate to Jasper, and asked the court to grant her the ability to do so. The father wants the child to stay in Ontario.

Best interests of the child will determine where they will live

The only factor used to determine whether the child should move or stay in Ontario is which option is in her best interests. The court noted that it considers a number of things in making such a decision, including:

1.   The love, affection and emotional ties between the child and, inter alia, each person entitled to or claiming custody of or access to the child and other persons involved in the child’s care and upbringing;

2.   The child’s views and preferences if they can reasonably be ascertained;

3.   The length of time the child has lived in a stable home environment;

4.   The ability and willingness of each person applying for custody of the child to provide the child with guidance and education, the necessaries of life and any special needs of the child;

5.   The plan proposed by each person applying for custody of or access to the child for the child’s care and upbringing;

6.   The permanence and stability of the family unit with which it is proposed that the child will live;

7.   The ability of each person applying for custody of or access to the child to act as a parent; and

8.   Any familial relationship between the child and each person who is a party to the application.

The ability of either parent to provide for the child was not in question, with the court noting they are both active and engaged in the child’s upbringing. While the mother did not have all the details ironed out as to what life in Jasper would look like, the court was satisfied that she would be able to provide a stable home environment there.

In this case, the child has extended family in both provinces. And while the court did not question the mother’s ability to care for the child in Alberta, it noted that the child already lives in Ontario. She has friends there and is familiar with her community. In addition, if the mother moved, the child’s relationship with the father would be significantly altered.  As a result, the court determined it would be in the best interests of the child to remain in Ontario.

Contact Gelman & Associates to learn how knowledgeable family law lawyers can protect your custody and access rights. We strive to provide you with the information and resources necessary to make informed decisions about family law matters. To help you maintain positive mental health during a difficult period, we also offer our clients a free consultation with a psychological professional.

Conveniently located in six offices throughout Ontario, our offices are easily accessible by transit and off-highway. In order to be available to clients and prospective clients, our phone lines are open Monday to Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM. Call us at (416) 736-0200 or 1-844-736-0200 or contact us online for an initial consultation.