Moving parents – consequences for the children: a controversial and difficult topic

The parental resettlement or so-called change of life is considered one of the most complicated tasks for family judges. If a parent seeks to move with the child to another country, it will affect the parental rights of both parents. In particular, a relocation from Germany to the US or Canada will likely require a change in the existing education plan.

There is no “standard home visit plan”, but if both parents live close to each other, it is very likely that the parents will exercise a plan called “change model” or 50/50 model in which both parents will see the child alternately weekly or after the so-called “nest model”, where the child lives with one parent and the other parent has access to the child every other weekend (and probably one additional day per week).

Moving to another country will most likely lead to a change in such schedules. Geographic removal requires a timetable that minimizes non-relocating parent visits to an estimated 3-4 visits per year. On the other hand, the court will consider carefully what it means for the child to abandon his or her environment such as school, extracurricular activities, friends, neighbors, and, of course, relationships with close relatives.

Only if the court finds that the child is benefiting from contracting with a parent the court does permit such a move by transferring the right of residence to the moving parent (so called “best interest test”).

The court may not take into account the motives of the parents’ move. There is no test such as “good faith” or “bad faith”. This is the theory, in practice some of the family judges weigh up the motives of the moving parent.

A relocation case requires careful preparation and a deep understanding of resettlement jurisdiction. According to our experiences with relocation cases there are no “easy” relocation cases when both parties exercise custody.

Contact our law office and lawyer Ms. Vera Mueller by phone or e-mail.

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