A new job, a new relationship, moving closer to family, or all of the above can all be reasons you want to change child custody and relocation. However, if you are sharing custody with your ex, it can make things more difficult. If your divorce and custody agreement were finalized in the state of Florida, there are only a select number of circumstances where relocation is allowed. The first priority is always what is in the best interest of the children. Before relocating, it is important that you speak with your attorney. This ensures that you are familiar with the relocation statutes. Additionally, it helps you prepare for the situation.
What is Relocation?
Florida law has a very specific definition of what constitutes relocation. It is any change to the primary residence of a parent that lasts longer than 60 days. Additionally, the new location must be at least 50 miles from the original residence. The key factor in a relocation is how it affects the other parent. In particular, how it impacts their ability to spend time with the children. Generally, courts are unlikely to approve a relocation. Mainly because relocation infringes on the custody agreement or is not in the best interest of the child.
How Can Relocation Be Approved?
The easiest way for relocation to get court approval is if both parents agree to the relocation. Both parents must sign a document that states their approval of the relocation. The document must include a few components.
- New time-sharing agreement
- Transportation schedule
- Any specific caveats that the parents want to include
If both parents sign the document, then the court will approve of the relocation with the need for a formal hearing.
Barring written approval from your ex, you will need to file a petition with the court indicating your desire to relocate. This petition should include the address and phone number where you wish to relocate, the proposed date of relocation, the reason for the relocation, the proposed visitation schedule, and the proposed transportation plan. Once the relocating parent files and serves the petition to the non-relocating parent, the non-relocating parent has 20 days to respond. If that deadline is missed, the court can then grant the approval for relocation.
If the other parent objects to the relocation within the allotted timeframe, then a formal hearing will be held wherein the relocating parent must prove that the move is in the best interest of the child. The court will then weigh the relocation against a variety of factors including the child’s age and needs, the logistics of the move, and the ability of the non-relocating parent to maintain a relationship with the child.
If you feel that a relocation is necessary and is in the best interest of your child, then we recommend that you speak with your attorney as soon as possible to work out the logistics of the relocation. Your attorney will also work with you as you work with your ex to determine what is the best scenario for your child.