Sydney, NSW -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/16/2013 -- Mother was allowed to relocate with a child to Queensland for 18 months for employment. The mother must return with a child to New South Wales upon end of employment and must ensure that child regularly see the father during the 18 months. The Court maintained that joint parental responsibility over child be held intact since neither of the parties prayed for sole parental responsibility over the child.
The case of Fitzpatrick & Power (2010) FamCAFC 22 (February 22, 2010) involves the appeal of a father from the interim orders issued by the Federal Magistrate Court. The assailed orders allowed the mother to relocate to Queensland with their child and granted sole parental responsibility to her. The mother applied to relocate to Queensland with the child because of a job opportunity that would take 18 months.
The father and mother lived together for five months in New South Wales. Their child was born in October 2008. The parties separated with the mother as the primary carer of the child. On August 19, 2009, the mother applied for an interim order to allow her to relocate with the child to Queensland. The mother was able to prove to the court that she has found employment in Queensland that will be for a period of 18 months. She was allowed to relocate and was given sole parental responsibility for the child.
Upon appeal, the father was unsuccessful in contesting the relocation to Queensland. The Court held that the mother should be allowed to secure work in Queensland, which would allow her to have a range of opportunities. However, upon the end of 18 months the mother has the responsibility of returning with the child to their town in New South Wales. The mother must also ensure that the child regularly sees the father during those 18 months.
With respect to the grant of sole parental responsibility to the mother, the Court found that neither of the parties prayed for the grant of sole parental responsibility. Regarding this matter, the Court said that:
“… we consider that procedural fairness considerations would have permitted his Honour to do no more in the circumstances of this case than leave intact, so to speak, the joint parental responsibility which each parent had by virtue of s 61C, but with a requirement for the mother to keep the father informed of significant issues relating to the child given the distance that the child would be living from the father for the next eighteen months.”
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