Legal Considerations for Relocation of a Child’s Residence

There are many reasons people move—employment opportunities, the desire to be closer to a family member, marriage, divorce, remarriage, and even a desire to live in a different climate.

While most adults in the United States are free to relocate whenever and wherever they choose without the approval of a court or governmental agency, parents involved in child custody litigation may not be allowed to relocate with their minor children, without complying with the requirements set forth by the state of Florida.

Since each state has their own laws regarding moving with a child when there is a child custody plan in place—or child custody is pending—in the state of Florida a significant move requires permission from both the other parent and/or the Family Court.

Moving Parent Must Seek Permission

When the parent of a minor child wants to move out of state—or to any location which would significantly impair the ability of the other parent to spend time with the child, which would include moving a distance of more than 50 miles from their current residence—the parent who intends to move must first seek the other parent’s written approval, and/or obtain a court order granting permission for the move.

“Significant impairment” means the move will significantly decrease the ease of seeing the child or the amount of time spent with the child for the non-moving parent. A move within the same county, for example, is usually not an issue, as long as the distance of the move is not in excess of 50 miles.

Notice Requirements Relocation

There are strict notice requirements regarding a proposed move. Typically, at least thirty days prior to the proposed move, a Notice of Proposed Relocation must be provided to the other parent (or any third party who exercises parental rights to the child). The Notice of Proposed Relocation must include:

  • Proposed new address and telephone number
  • Names and ages of every individual who intends to live in the new residence
  • The name of the new school
  • The date of the proposed relocation
  • Reasons for the proposed relocation
  • Proposed revision of the time-sharing schedule

The non-relocating parent has a specific time in which to respond to the proposed move or they could be prohibited from objecting to the proposed relocation.

Objection to a Relocation

If the non-relocating parent does object, they must file their objection with the court as well as to the parent who desires to move.

When an objection is filed, the court will schedule an expedited hearing on the issue. At that time, the court will ask the parent who wants to move to establish certain factors which support his or her desire to move.

This could include proof that the relocation will significantly enhance the quality of life for the parent as well as the child. That proof might lie in the fact that the parent will be able to take a much better job which will allow him or her to provide for the child, or that the child will receive a much better education, or even that there will be family members close who can help care for the child.

Relocation Laws Must Be Taken Seriously

The non-relocating parent must then show why his or her objection to the relocation is valid. Once the court has heard both sides of the argument, a determination will be made as to whether the parent will be allowed to relocate, based on the best interests of the child.

A court cannot restrict the parent’s ability to move wherever he or she desires, but can amend the custody order, which the state of Florida terms as a “Parenting Plan”, requiring the child to stay in-state with the non-relocating parent. Even if there is no Parenting Plan in place, a parent who leaves the state with the child can be forced to immediately return the child pending a hearing on the proposed relocation.

Relocation of a child is a complex area of child custody law in Florida and there are significant negative consequences for parents who do not comply with the law regarding relocation even when the move is prompted by a family emergency or employment relocation.

Contact Our Lawyers Today

If you wish to move with your child out of state, we can help. Our experienced West Palm Beach divorce lawyers are ready to assist you through the process of relocating. Contact the Law Office of Eric C. Cheshire, P.A. at (561) 677-8090 or fill out our contact form for a personal and confidential initial consultation and review of your case. We can help you through life’s ups and downs and protect your future every step of the way.

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