U v U [2002] HCA 36 | 5 September 2002

ON 5 SEPTEMBER 2005, the High Court of Australia delivered U v U [2002] HCA 36; 211 CLR 238; 191 ALR 289; 76 ALJR 1416 (5 September 2002).


An Indian mother and residential parent of a 9 year old girl applied to relocate to Mumbai where she had good employment prospects and family.

The Family Court rejected the application and appeals were dismissed by the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia and High Court of Australia.

The High Court made the following observations about relocation cases:

  • The court, not the parties, defines the issues. The parties do not define the issues because they have failed to agree to a parenting plan. The court is not bound by the polarised options of the parties but instead must decide what is in the child’s best interests.
  • There is no onus of the parent seeking relocation to show compelling reasons for relocation.
  • Relocation disputes are unlikely to produce perfect solutions because of the wide range of predictions and discretion to make findings.
  • It should be assumed that the non-resident parent ought not relocate to be nearer the relocating resident and child; and it should not be assumed that the residential parent should not subordinate her wish to relocate to the wish of the non-resident parent to remain in the place of his or her choosing.
  • It is self-evident that, except in cases of abusive relationships, it is in the child’s best interests to develop good relationships with both parents.


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