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Family Law

The leading authority on all aspects of family law

28 JUN 2016

Children's 'wishes and feelings' in relocation disputes [2016] CFLQ 151

Children's 'wishes and feelings' in relocation disputes [2016] CFLQ 151
Judy Cashmore, Professor, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney, Australia
Patrick Parkinson, Professor, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney, Australia

Keywords: Relocation - parental separation - children's views

This article presents the findings of a qualitative study of the views and experiences of 33 children from 20 families who were caught up in relocation disputes in Australia and followed for up to five years after the dispute ended. A small online survey of children who travel to see a parent provided another source of information; together, they provide a window on the worlds of children in these circumstances. The interviews and surveys both indicate a range of views about the move before it occurred. Some children were happy to move, some ambivalent, and others were opposed. Relationships with step-parents were a complicating factor. Some children reported poor - or at least distant - relationships with a parent's new partner and this affected their view about the merits or otherwise of the relocation.

For those children who did move, there was sometimes a difference between their locational adjustment and their relational adjustment. Generally, they navigated the locational adjustment well. While some took longer to settle than others, all made new friends and adjusted well to new schools. However, some children, especially those of primary school age, missed their fathers a great deal. Children who travelled by place reported little difficulty with this, but car and bus travel were generally not liked. The research shows the importance of a careful assessment of the importance to the child of the relationship with the non-resident parent. Furthermore, it should not be assumed that children's interests are the same as either of the parents who are in dispute.

This article has been accepted for publication in Child and Family Law Quarterly in Issue 2, Vol 28, Year 2016. The final published version of this article will be published and made publicly available here 24 months after its publication date, under a CC-BY-NC licence.

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