Parental Relocation: A Hot Topic

Parental Relocation is considered one of the most complicated tasks for family judges. If one parent seeks a relocation with the child to another country, it will affect the parental rights of both parents. Especially a reloctation from Germany to the US or Canada will probably require a modification of the exisiting parenting schedule. There is no such thing as a  „standard domestic visitation schedule“, but if both parents live close to each other, it is highly likely that the parents exercise a schedule called „Wechselmodell“ or 50/50-model, in which both parents see the child on an alternating weekly basis, or they exercise the so called „Nestmodell“ in which the child lives with one parent and the other parent has access to the child every other weekend (and probably one extra day per week). Relocating to another country will most likely result in a modification of such a schedules- the geographical distance requires a schedule that minimizes the visits of the non-relocating parent to probably 3-4 visits per year.

On the other hand, the court will carefully consider what it means for the child to abandon his/her living evironment such as school, extra-school activities, friends, neighbors and of course the relationship to close relatives.

Only if the court finds that it will benefit the child to move with one parent, the court will allow such move by transferring physical custody („Aufenthaltsbestimmungsrecht„) to the relocating parent (best interests test).

The court must not consider the motives of relocating parent. There is no such test as the „good faith“ or „bad faith“ test. This is the theory, in practice some of the family judges do weigh the motives of the moving parent.

A relocation case requires careful preparation and a deep understanding of the case law on relocation. Acording to our own experience with relocation cases, there are no „simple“ relocation cases if both parties exercise custody.

In case you consider a relocation to the US or from the US (to Germany) we offer assistance – our network of attorneys in the US will allow us to consider both US- and German law on relocation – just give us a call.