Parents are not always free to move with their children without limitation.
These limitations begin if you move 50 miles or more from the residence at the time of the divorce (or other time sharing court order).
Florida’s relocation statues, requires you to either obtain written consent of the other parent or obtain a court order permitting you to relocate prior to moving. If you fail to do so prior to relocating, the Court will enter an order, upon request, requiring the minor child to return to the jurisdiction the child previously resided.
Even if you obtain the consent of the other parent, there are very specific rules that must be followed prior to moving.
There must be a written agreement consenting to the relocation which also includes the timesharing schedule and transportation arrangements being made related to the relocation.
If there is an existing order of court, this written agreement must be filed with the court and ratified by the court.
In order to relocate over the objection of one parent, you must prove that the move is in the best interest of the minor child.
This burden is not always easy to prove.
The Court looks at, among other things…
- the relationships between the child and the parents, siblings, etc. and what effect the move will have on this relationship, along with the ability to preserve the relationships
- the age and needs of the child
- the child’s preference
- the quality of life the move will provide to the parent and child
- the reasons for relocation and for opposing relocation
- financial situation of each parent and whether relocation is necessary to improve same
- if the other parent has any financial obligation outstanding to the relocating parent
- career opportunities that result from relocation
- whether there is any substance abuse or domestic violence history between the parties
Since you are not permitted to relocate without the consent of the parent or court order, there is a procedure to obtain priority hearings.
These hearings can be obtained during the pendency of the action or requested as a final hearing. If the hearing is for temporary approval, the court should attempt to hear the matter within 30 days of the request.
If the hearing is a final request, the court should attempt to hear the matter within 90 days of the request.
If you are a parent who is objecting to the relocation, it is important to object properly. Failing to do so could result in the court approving the relocation without so much as a hearing.
To object properly, once a parent makes a request to relocate, you should express your lack of consent in writing and keep a copy for your records.
If a petition is filed, you MUST file a verified answer objecting which includes a factual basis supporting your reasons as well as a statement of how involved you are in your child’s life presently and in the past.
It is strongly suggested that you obtain representation if you are involved in a relocation case as this area of law is extremely complex and the issue involved is a very serious one-your relationship with your child.
Florida Statutes governing relocations is located at 61.13001.