Is relocation of a child by one parent a material change in the circumstances of the child?

Prince Edward Island, Canada


The following excerpt is from M.(T.) v. T, 2009 PESC 22 (CanLII):

The simple answer to this question is yes. McLachlin J. in Gordon v. Goertz framed the issue this way: she said it follows that before entering on the merits of an application to vary a custody order, the judge must be satisfied of: (1) a change in the condition, means, needs or circumstances of the child and/or the ability of the parents to meet the needs of the child; (2) which materially affects the child; and (3) which was either not foreseen or could not have been reasonably contemplated by the judge who made the initial order. (See para. 13.) She goes on to state that these are the principles which determine whether a move by the custodial parent is a material change in the “condition, means, needs or other circumstances of the child.” She says relocation will always be a “change.” Many times but not always it will amount to a change which materially affects the circumstances of the child and the ability of a parent to meet them. (See para. 14.)

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