Melbourne Family Court allows Mother and Child’s Relocation to USA
In January 2015, our client, 30 year old USA citizen Miranda (not her real name) was referred to Melbourne Family Lawyers by United States Embassy staff in Melbourne, as her marriage to her 35 yo Australian Husband, Bruce (not his real name) had broken down. Miranda’s legal problem was that she wanted to return home to the United States, with her 3 year old daughter, but her Husband objected to such an arrangement. The law states that if a parent does not consent to a child leaving Australia, then the parent wanting to take the child overseas must obtain a Family Court Order before doing so.
Our Senior Consultant, Alison Loach, was asked to take on this case. Alison’s initial view was that Miranda had a good prospect of obtaining the necessary Court Order allowing a relocation to USA. On that basis, a Court Application was issued in the Family Court of Australia at Melbourne in February 2015.
The relevant history is as follows:
Miranda and Bruce met via online gaming in 2009. Miranda came to Australia in May 2010 for a 6 day holiday and hooked up with Bruce. Miranda came back to Australia in October 2010 to live with Bruce and they subsequently married in May 2011. Miranda and Bruce then went to the USA together and lived with Miranda’s family. Their child was born in the United States in March 2012. A few months later, Miranda, Bruce and their child came to live in Australia. However, by January 2015 the marriage had broken down irretrievably and Miranda and Bruce separated. As a result of verbal and physical abuse, Miranda obtained an Intervention Order against Bruce immediately following separation.
Miranda had significant concerns about Bruce’s drug use, irresponsible attitude towards financial issues, his lack of parenting skills, his use of cannabis in the child’s presence, his poor work history, unstable accommodation, the instability of his relationships with his family, and his tendency when looking after the child to delegate that to his elderly grandmother.
Miranda’s family in the USA had strong bonds and could offer stability and financial support for both her and her young daughter. Miranda had no viable family or friendship network in Australia.
The Final Hearing took place in the Family Court of Australia at Melbourne during April 2016. In his judgment (see http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/FamCA/2016/271.html ), Justice Cronin found that in all the circumstances, it would be in the child’s best interests for Miranda to be permitted to take the child to reside in the United States and to give Miranda sole parental responsibility for all major long-term decisions relating to the child. The Judge also made orders giving Bruce at least eight consecutive days of contact time with the child each year- this to take place in either USA or Australia in alternating years.
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