In Ontario, when a court is deciding on child relocation issues, it focuses on what is in the best interests of the child. This principle is outlined in both the Divorce Act and the Children’s Law Reform Act.

The court will consider a variety of factors to determine what is in the best interests of the child, including:

  • The child’s physical, emotional, and psychological safety, security, and well-being
  • The child’s needs, given their age and stage of development
  • The nature and strength of the child’s relationship with each parent
  • Each parent’s willingness to support the development and maintenance of the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • The history of care of the child
  • The child’s views and preferences, giving due weight to the child’s age and maturity
  • The child’s cultural, linguistic, religious and spiritual upbringing and heritage
  • Any plans for the child’s care
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to care for and meet the needs of the child
  • The ability and willingness of each parent to communicate and co-operate on matters affecting the child
  • Any family violence and its impact on the child
  • Any civil or criminal proceeding, order, condition, or measure that is relevant to the safety, security, and well-being of the child

In the context of relocation, the court will also consider the impact of the relocation on the child, the amount of time spent with the child by each parent, any past order, arbitral award, or agreement regarding parenting including any restriction on the relocation, and the reasonableness of the proposal. The court is not allowed to consider whether the parent who intends to relocate would relocate without the child.