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Child Relocation to UK permitted owing to “unrelenting parental conflict”

International child relocation permitted

In the very recent Family Court of Australia case of Rabkin & Edsall (No.3)[2018] FamCA 515 Her honour Justice Hogan made orders permitting the international relocation of an 8 year old boy against the wishes of the father.

Impact on child of being involved in the parents’ conflict

The case had been a long running one where earlier parenting orders had been made but had not been maintained. The court’s lengthy judgment reveals some appalling instances of the impact of a child being exposed to long term high level conflict between the mother and father. The child experienced significant psychological trauma even leading to him talking about killing himself. A desperately sad state for anyone but for an 8 year old boy to reach such a level of unhappiness is surely a tragedy.

Evidence and lies

The father was found to be untruthful. The court found that he had deliberately lied. Although the mother had herself some psychological issues to address she appeared to be doing so. The father’s outbursts of anger and vitriol to the mother were significant. With polarised views as to the final parenting arrangements the court found itself having to make a most difficult decision based upon the outcome that would be in the best interests of the child.

Judge’s reasons

In her reasons for judgment Justice Hogan stated [at 608]:

  • I consider that the child’s best interests require that he be protected from future exposure to this parental conflict which, as noted, shows absolutely no signs of diminishing. I have concluded therefore that, even taking into account the negative impacts on the child of a significant change to his current parenting regime and the likely negative impact on his relationships with his father, paternal grandmother and other members of the paternal family which will inevitably accompany a relocation to the United Kingdom, the benefits of such a move – being guaranteed respite from exposure to parental conflict and the opportunity to be parented by his mother whose functioning will not be detrimentally affected by her exposure to and engagement in the ongoing parental conflict- are such as to outweigh the detriments.

Her honour found it a preferable course to allow the mother to relocate with the child to the UK despite knowing the likely impact upon the child’s relationships with the father and his family.

Avoid involving children in conflict

Sad cases such as this should serve as a reminder to parents to keep any arguments to themselves and to never involve the children. Hard as it can be, maintaining cordial relationships with the other parent is likely to lead to the best outcome for the children following separation.

For advice as to how to formalise your parenting arrangements in a respectful and child focused manner please contact Bell Legal’s Family Law team today on 07 5597 3366 or send an email to law@belllegal.com.au



For more information on this topic please contact Margaret Miller, Partner and Family Lawyer. This article has been prepared by Bell Legal Group for general information purposes only. It is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.