Winter & Winter 2008 FamCAFC 159

After separation a mother wanted to relocate to another city where she would receive support from her extended family and would be better off financially. The father wanted to remain in the same city where he worked and had accommodation.  A family consultant noted that the children were attached to both parents and there were no risk issues, and recommended that the children remain in the same city as the father.  However the trial judge ordered that the mother be permitted to relocate with two children aged 8 and 4 years so that the mother would not be reliant on her ex-husband.  The father appealed the decision arguing that the judge had not given reasons for departing from the recommendations of the family consultant.

The appeal judges acknowledged that the family consultant was not expected to address matters of the financial benefits to parents of various options, or of employment prospects in different cities.   The appeal judges agreed that the trial judge is required to state reasons for not following the unchallenged recommendations of the family consultant, and noted that the trial judge did not explain why relocation was in the best interests of the children.

The appeal was allowed.