The Cs had come to New Zealand in 2013 with their 5 children in order to connect with the father’s Maori culture. Over the next year they split up and Mrs C applied for an order permitting her to return to Australia with the children. The Family Court refused to allow her to relocate.
In the High Court case C v C, the mother appealed this Family Court decision with the aim of getting a verdict which would allow her to relocate her 5 children from Northland to Melbourne, with or without their father. During this appeal the High Court found four factors that were not present or made clear during the Family Court hearing that counted in favour of allowing the relocation:
- The mother now has a guaranteed job waiting in Australia if she moves back permanently within a reasonable amount of time. Were she not to move back then she would have to be on state support.
- If the court found it to be in the best interests of the family to relocate to Australia, then the father is willing to move with them.
- The father acknowledged that living in New Zealand was never meant to be permanent and had planned to move back to Australia when their youngest child was around 8 years old.
- The mother had offered to contribute $20,000 to the father’s relocation expenses. In addition, the court cited the greatly improved financial situation that the family would be in if they were living in Australia, and the fact that the children would be able to re-enrol in the school they used to attend in Melbourne. The family also all held Australian passports, the mother temporarily relocated to have her youngest child in Australia, which suggests that they wished to be more closely associated to Australia than New Zealand.
With respect to these factors and under s4 of the Care of Children Act 2004, it was decided that it would be in the best interests of the children and mother to relocate the family to Australia. The FC decision was overturned.
- This case shows the importance of careful preparation of a relocation application. All important factors should be elaborated on. For example, that a school has been enrolled in and a family residence has been organised.
- If there are any new factors which would tell in favour of allowing relocation, then an appeal to the High Court is a viable option.
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