According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 11 percent of the population moves residences every year. Approximately 37 million people change their homes, and employment is the main reason. For many people, this change is relatively straightforward. For those who have a custody agreement for minor children with either an ex-spouse or former partner, however, the process can be a challenge. Florida law states specific rules about where the other parent may move with children after a divorce or separation, and a parent may be required to obtain the approval of the court before heading out of town.
Local Moves Are Typically Permitted Without Approval
Simply moving houses in the same area is typically not a problem. Ex-spouses/partners are free to move where they choose as long as the child remains near the other parent. No permission from the court is necessary for this type of move. Florida law does, however, place restrictions on moving a child more than 50 miles from the other parent.
A Move Over 50 Miles Does Require Legal Action
So, you've been offered an exciting promotion and pay raise, or you want to move closer to an ailing family member. If you are co-parenting with a former spouse, the process may not be as simple as you hope. Florida law states that a parent cannot move more than 50 miles away from the other parent without his or her consent. If the other parent agrees to the move, the matter can be settled rather quickly. The details of the relocation and your custody agreement would be put into writing and submitted to the court.
If, however, the other parent does not consent to the move, you may have to take him or her to court. Once a petition to relocate is filed, the other parent has 30 days to respond. During that 30 days, you may not move. However, the law allows for an expedited hearing within 90 days of the close of pleadings (the parent's petition and the other parent's objection to the petition).
Factors That Contribute to the Approval of a Relocation in Florida
The Florida courts do not lean one way or the other in determining where a child should live. Every case is different and the main goal of the courts is to act in the best interest of the child or children. Typically, the decision will be based on a number of factors, including:
- Involvement in the child's life.
- Timeliness of support payments.
- Reason for relocation.
- The child's preference (if the child is old enough to offer one).
The law seeks to help maintain a child's relationship with non-relocating parents as much as possible, so it is important to be prepared for your hearing. It is best to have a specific plan and to offer compelling reasons as to why and how a move would benefit your child.
If you are sharing custody of your child or children with an ex-spouse and one of you is considering a distant relocation, as an experienced and dedicated family lawyer, I will help protect your rights and your relationship with your child. Contact me today to schedule your in-depth one-hour consultation.