According to TMZ, Scarlett Johansson filed for divorce from her husband of just over two years, Romain Dauriac. Scarlett filed for divorce in New York and she is seeking primary custody of the parties' daughter. Romain also plans to fight for custody of the couple's daughter, Rose, which may result in a lengthy court battle. What is more concerning for Scarlett is that Romain is French and he reportedly intends to move back to France. However, it is not clear whether he intends to move with the couple's child.
Although the custody arrangements for the child have yet to be settled between Scarlett and Romain, in Ontario, Romain would likely be stopped from relocating the child to France, particularly if the parties' settle on a joint or shared custody arrangement. Whether Romain is awarded sole custody or joint custody of the couple's child does not mean that he has the right to move the child's place of residence, particularly when it is so far from the child's habitual residence.
Romain's ability to relocate the child to France depends on whether the move is a material change in circumstances that affects or is likely to affect the child's best interests. As a rule of thumb, the move must always be in the child's best interests.
Generally, relocation involves a change in custody or access rights. For instance, if relocating the child affects one parent's access, in this case Scarlett's access, then she may exercise the right to apply for a change in custody to prevent the child from being moved.
Nevertheless, relocation is oftentimes refused when there is a joint or shared custody arrangement. In such situations, the Court will consider the potential disruption to the child's life that will occur as a result of the relocation. For instance, the Court considers the fact that the child will have to move school, their community and extended family and weighs this against the disruption that may result from a change in custody. The goal is to minimize the disruptions in the child's life and to promote stability in the child's life during separation.
Ultimately, if Romain seeks to relocate the couple's child, the Court will defer to the child's best interests and not the rights and interests of the parents. Therefore, Romain faces an uphill battle if he intends to relocate with the child to France.