At some point after a custody order is entered, and before the child is an adult, one or both parents may have to relocate. In many cases, a move can be accomplished with little upheaval in the life of the child or parents. Yet in certain parental relocation, especially if one or both parents may need to move a great distance and, it might be required to make significant adjustments to pre-existing orders and agreements.
Florida laws govern how courts are to handle moves, and what the relocating and non-relocating parents are legally permitted to adapt. If you’re contemplating a move or have received news that the other parent is, you need to know your rights. Our family law lawyers at Orlando Family Team can work with you to defend your interests as a parent when inevitable life changes occur.
What Is Considered a Parental Relocation?
Section 61.13001 of the Florida Statutes governs parental relocation in child custody matters. “Relocation” means moving from the principal place of residence that existed when the last order establishing or modifying custody was entered. The move must be at least 50 miles from the prior residence to be considered a relocation; temporary absences due to vacation, education, or providing for a child’s healthcare do not count as relocation.
Do I Need Permission To Relocate?
If your potential move meets the above legal criteria, you will need permission. The law requires that anyone subject to the statute either obtain a court order permitting the move or the court’s ratification of an agreement between the parents to do so. If your move is within 50 miles of the residence you had when the original order was entered, permission is not needed.
If a parent tries to move and fails to comply with the relocation statute, he or she may be subject to contempt charges and other court action may be taken to return the child. Such action can also be taken into consideration in a subsequent hearing to modify custody.
What if Both Parents Agree to the Move?
One way to effect a relocation is to have the other parent agree to it. Under Florida’s statute, anyone with rights of access to or time-sharing with the child can sign a written agreement which includes:
- His or her consent to the relocation
- A new access or time-sharing plan for the non-relocating parent and any other party entitled to access or time-sharing
- A description of any necessary transportation arrangements in relation to access or time-sharing
The court has to ratify any such agreement. It can do so without the need for an evidentiary hearing, unless a party requests one within 10 days of the agreement being filed. If no such hearing is requested, it is presumed the agreement is in the child’s best interests and it will become a new order.
What Should I Do if the Other Parent Won’t Agree to the Move?
The other way of obtaining permission to move is to schedule a court hearing. This is done by filing a Petition to Relocate and serving it on the non-relocating parent and anyone else entitled to access or time-sharing with the child. According to Florida statute, the petition must be signed under oath or affirmation and include the following:
- A description of the location of the intended new residence. This includes the state, city, and specific physical address, if known.
- The mailing address of the intended new residence (if not the same as the physical address), if known.
- The home telephone number of the intended new residence, if known.
- The date of the intended move or proposed relocation.
- A detailed statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation. If a job offer is one of the reasons, and it has been reduced to writing, the written job offer must be attached to the petition.
- A proposal for the revised schedule for access and time-sharing, and a proposal for the revised transportation arrangements that will be necessary to allow time-sharing with the child.
- Express notice that any objection to the petition must be made in writing, filed with the court, and served on the relocating parent (or other party) within 20 days of service of the petition to relocate. If the non-relocating parent or party fails to object in a timely manner, the move will be allowed without further notice or hearing (unless it’s not in the child’s best interests). This objection must be written or typed in all capital letters and in the same size type as the remainder of the petition.
How Will the Court Decide Upon My Petition For Parental Relocation?
There is no presumption either for or against a petition to relocate. Rather, the court must weigh the following criteria in deciding upon the petition:
- The nature of the child’s relationship with the relocating parent, the non-relocating parent, siblings, and other significant people in the child’s life.
- The age, development, and needs of the child (including any special needs).
- How feasible it is that the new access and time-sharing arrangements will preserve the child’s relationship with the non-relocating parent. This includes the likelihood that the relocating parent will comply with the new arrangements.
- The child’s preference, as appropriate based on age and maturity.
- Whether the relocation will enhance the quality of life for the relocating parent and child.
- The reasons for seeking or objecting to the relocation.
- The employment and economic impact of moving.
- Whether the relocation is requested in good faith and whether the non-relocating parent has fulfilled his or her child support and other obligations arising from the marriage.
- Opportunities available to the non-relocating parent in the event the relocation occurs.
- Any history of substance abuse or domestic violence.
- Any other factor affecting the child’s best interests.
Contact Our Orlando Parental Relocation Attorney Today
Florida’s laws make it clear that permission must be obtained to move more than 50 miles from the other parent. Don’t jeopardize your parental rights by ignoring the law. Whether you are seeking or objecting to relocation, let Orlando Family Team help. Contact us today for a consultation.