Summertime is a popular time for people to think about moving, whether it’s to a bigger house in the same neighborhood, or to a different city or state because of a job. When relocating, you might be considering what part of town and style of house you’d like to live in and whether your new home will be in proximity to schools and shops. When child relocation involves custody issues, whether pre- or post-divorce, there are additional things you might want to consider before you relocate.
- How far are you planning on moving?
Whether you are moving within the State of Florida or moving out of state, where you are moving to, and how far the location is from your current residence is an important consideration. Under child relocation laws, if you decide to move more than fifty miles from your current residence, then you are required to file a petition that informs the court and your ex-spouse of your intent to move. This is required even if your divorce and parenting plan/custody agreement is still pending.
- Talk to your ex-spouse
If you are considering a move, you may be able to avoid filing a petition if your ex-spouse consents to the relocation in a written agreement. This agreement must define the time-sharing rights of both parents or any other person who may be entitled to visitation, and it must describe any transportation agreements related to visitation. Of course, the Court should sign off on this agreement.
- Be prepared to provide detailed information about your planned relocation
When filing a petition or reaching an agreement with your ex-spouse, you should be able to provide information on your new residence, when you intend to move, why you are planning on moving, and you will also have to propose a post-move time-sharing schedule and transportation arrangement.
- It may be a while before you can actually move
If you file a petition for child relocation with the court, you cannot relocate during the time period that your ex-spouse has time to object to your petition, which is generally twenty days. Moreover, if your ex-spouse does object to your move, you cannot move without court approval. After your ex-spouse objects, there likely will be a hearing where the court will decide whether to allow the move.
- Above all, you should consider the best interests of your child, as this is the primary issue that the court considers when deciding whether to allow the relocation.
It is always important to consider the impact that a move might have on your child. Remember that they too will be starting over. Maybe they will be attending a new school and will have to make new friends. In addition, the best interests of the child are what the court considers when determining whether to grant a relocation. Relocation cannot be based solely upon a finding that the move would serve the best interests of the parent and not their child.
Overview of Florida’s Relocation Law
Under Florida law relocation means that a parent is relocating at least fifty miles from their current residence and that they intend to live there for at least sixty consecutive days. This definition does not include temporary relocations for purposes of education, vacation, or providing the child with health care.
If you are seeking to relocate, you should either provide the court with a written agreement regarding the relocation or file a petition to relocate. If you and your ex-spouse can reach a consensus on the relocation, then a written agreement may be the best way to obtain approval from the court. The written agreement must contain:
(a) the consent of both parents regarding the relocation;
(b) a custody time-sharing schedule that specifically addresses visitation for the parent who is not relocating; and
(c) a transportation arrangement that is necessary to achieve the time-sharing schedule.
Without an agreement, any parent who wants to relocate must file a petition with the court. Florida law very specifically outlines what must be included in the petition, and if properly filed, in most cases there will be a hearing to determine whether the petition for child relocation should be granted. The parent who is seeking to relocate must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the move is in the best interest of the child. The court considers the following when making a decision on child relocation:
- The relationship that the child has with the relocating and non-relocating parent, and whether there are other significant relationships, such as with relatives who live nearby;
- The age and the needs of the child and whether the relocation will impact their development;
- Whether the relationship that the child has with the non-relocating parent can be preserved;
- Whether the child has a preference;
- Whether the quality of life will be enhanced for both the relocating parent and the child;
- Any pros and cons of the relocation as provided by the parents;
- The economic circumstances of the parents and whether relocating will improve those circumstances;
- Whether the relocating parent is seeking to move in good faith;
- Whether there are any job opportunities for the parent who objects to the relocation if that parent also decides to relocate to stay close to the child;
- Whether there is any history of substance abuse or domestic violence;
- Any other factors that might affect the best interest of the child.
It is important to note that anyone who has a legal right to visitation with a minor child such as a grandparent, step-parent, or guardian, who might lose visitation or time-sharing with the child, has the same rights as the parents to file an objection to a relocation and make their case before the court.
Contact Our Dedicated and Knowledgeable West Palm Beach Family Law Attorney
If you are planning to move this summer with your child or even if your ex-spouse is moving away with your child it is important that you consult with an experienced Attorney. Eric C. Cheshire, P.A. is dedicated exclusively to divorce and family law, and as such, we will advocate for your rights and interests in any related pre- or post-divorce cases. Call us today at (561) 677-8090 to schedule your consultation and find out what we can do for you.