Life changes. People decide to move. Moving can be difficult, but there are unique hurdles when the move involves children of divorced parents. Parents in this situation have to follow specific rules when the move results in an official relocation according to state law.
In Florida, state law defines relocation as a change to the location of the home compared to the address listed on the last court order. To qualify as a relocation event in the eyes of the courts and warrant court action, the move must be 50 miles or more from the listed address and last for at least 60 consecutive days.
The courts encourage parents to agree to a relocation plan. The court will recognize a written agreement that provides parental consent to the relocation as well as a plan for how the nonrelocating parent will still get to spend time with the child. This could include details about transportation arrangements if needed.
What if one parent does not agree with the move?
If the parents cannot agree, the party that wishes to relocate may file a petition with the court. This petition to relocate should include a description of the new location with an address if known as well as a telephone number and date of the proposed move. It should also include a proposed time-sharing agreement that would apply after the move and be officially served to the non-moving parent.
Upon receipt, the other parent has 20 days to respond. An objection to the proposed move should include reasons to support the objection and an explanation of how much time the non-moving parent currently has and has spent in the past with the child.
How does the court make its decision?
The court will look to a variety of factors when making its determination including the relationship the child has with each parent, the age of the child, the preference of the child, and the opportunities that are available if the relocation occurs. It is important to note that the parent who wishes to move has the burden of proving that the move is in the best interest of the child.
What if one parent moves without approval?
This can lead to serious consequences if the move is in violation with the time-sharing or parenting plan agreement. This can lead to the court finding the moving parent in contempt and may play a role in the court’s future decision.