Parenting arrangements and relocation law in England and Wales, and Canada: In search of better rules and guidelines

Ghislaine Lanteigne


In disputes over a proposed relocation (where usually the non-resident/non-custodial parent in the separated or divorced couple opposes the primary carer who is proposing to relocate with the child) parents may have to seek a court decision as to the future residence of the child. The courts in England and Wales, and Canada base their decisions on the indeterminate ‘best interests of the child’ principle, and their approaches until recently started from different standpoints, whereby Canada could be considered as having a neutral approach towards parental roles while England and Wales could be considered as focussing on the role of the primary carer. With a view to examining decision-making models for courts in relocation cases, this paper contrasts the rules and court guidelines developed for relocation cases in England and Wales, and Canada, as well as critiques of these approaches. Also presented are recent developments focussing on types of established parenting arrangements in England and Wales and in one Canadian province, British Columbia, the latter providing a promising alternative decision-making model for courts dealing with relocation cases.

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