Family Law / Divorce Library

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Relocation is where one parent wants to move with the children far enough away that it will likely have a significant impact on the children's relationship with the other parent. Often that's a move to another province or country, but it can also be a relocation within the province, or in some circumstances, maybe even the same municipality.

Provided that proper procedures are followed, parents have the right to relocate, the it’s not up to to the courts to determine whether they like or agree with the reason for moving. The courts simply decide whether, given the move, the child should move with the moving parent, or remain with the non-moving parent (MacPhail v Karasek, 2016 ABCA 238 at paras 44-45; BRH v RPS, 2017 ABCA 268 at paras 57, 58).

Unless the court orders otherwise, married parents who wish to relocate children must provide at least 60 days' notice of the intended relocation. The non-relocating parent then has 30 days to provide notice of their objection. The relocation notice and notice of objection forms can be found at

In addition to the Best Interests test, courts must also take into account:

  1. the reasons for the relocation;

  2. the impact of the relocation on the child;

  3. the amount of time spent with the child by each person who has parenting time or a pending application for a parenting order and the level of involvement in the child’s life of each of those persons;

  4. whether the person who intends to relocate the child complied with any applicable notice requirement (see above), provincial family law legislation, an order, arbitral award, or agreement;

  5. the existence of an order, arbitral award, or agreement that specifies the geographic area in which the child is to reside;

  6. the reasonableness of the proposal of the person who intends to relocate the child to vary the exercise of parenting time, decision-making responsibility or contact, taking into consideration, among other things, the location of the new place of residence and the travel expenses; and

  7. whether each person who has parenting time or decision-making responsibility or a pending application for a parenting order has complied with their obligations under family law legislation, an order, arbitral award, or agreement, and the likelihood of future compliance.

If the parents exercised substantially equal parenting time, the parent who is moving is who needs to prove that the relocation is in the children's best interests (and permission to relocate children in those circumstances is rarely granted). If the children spend the "vast majority" of their time with the moving parent, then the non-moving parent has the burden of proving that the relocation would not be in the best interests of the children (and permission to relocate is more often than not granted in those circumstances). Where parenting time is somewhere in the middle, each parent can try to prove their position, without any particular onus.

If a court allows a relocation, it can also decide how to apportion the travel cost of the non-relocating parent.

Unless a court orders otherwise (for example, where there has been family violence), parents who move to a new house must also notify the other parent in writing of their new address and expected date of move.

While provincial legislation does not directly address relocations for unmarried parents, courts will generally consider the same factors, and failure to notify of a relocation could result in an court order to return.

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Content by Ken Proudman of BARR LLP (Edmonton)

Last complete review of all content on this page on November 11, 2022

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