Children's ‘Wishes and Feelings’ in Relocation Disputes
Child and Family Law Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 2, pp. 151-173 2016
30 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2014 Last revised: 1 Aug 2016
Date Written: November 13, 2014
This article reports on the views and experiences of 33 children from 20 families who were caught up in relocation disputes in Australia and followed for up to 5 years after the dispute ended. Further information was gained from a small online survey of children who travel to see a parent. Although it is a relatively small qualitative study, it provides a window on the worlds of these children.
The interviews with children show a range of views about the move. In many cases their perception of their interests aligned with the mother’s proposals to move. This was especially the case if they had a distant or troubled relationship with their father. However, many other children, especially those of primary school age, missed their fathers very much indeed, and this did not diminish over time unless the father was able to move into close proximity to his children, or the mother decided to return.
Relationships with step-parents were a complicating factor. Children variously reported poor – or at least distant – relationships with either the mother’s new partner or the father’s. Where there was a difficult relationship with a stepparent, this materially affected their perspectives on how comfortable they felt in each household.
Generally, the children who moved navigated the locational adjustment well. While some took longer to settle than others, all made new friends and adjusted well to new schools. Children who travelled by plane reported no difficulty in so doing – indeed some said they enjoyed it, but many children complained about journeys by road.
The research shows the importance of not assuming that children’s interests are the same as either of the parents who are in dispute.
Keywords: Family Law, custody, children, relocation, parental separation, children's participation
JEL Classification: K10, K30
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation