Divorce and child custody in Florida can be a somewhat tricky procedure. A parent with custody in the Sunshine State who wants to move a child more than 50 miles away for more than 60 days must inform the other parent by law AND obtain consent. If consent is not given by the other parent, a court order MUST be obtained. There are several different possible outcomes based on how the other parent feels about the move which could even result in a legal battle. Read on to find out everything you need to know about relocation and child custody in the state of Florida.
Section 61.13001 of the Florida Statutes states that “If a parent attempts to relocate with a child and fails to comply with section 61.13001(3) of the Florida Statutes regarding the petition to relocate, such parent may be subject to contempt and other proceedings to compel the return of the child, and such non-compliance may be taken into account by the court in a subsequent determination or modification of the parenting plan, access, or the time-sharing schedule.” As you can see, moving away with your child is much more serious than you may have previously realized.
If Both Parents Agree
A written statement is required no matter what, but if both parents agree to the move then they may file a written agreement to the court. It must include the noncustodial parent’s approval of the move, any necessary changes to the visitation schedule and a record of any transportation the parents have secured for visitation purposes. If anyone else has visitation rights, like a grandparent or aunt, they will have to agree to the move in the document as well.
If One Parent Disagrees
If the non-moving parent disagrees with the move, then the moving parent must file a petition with the court in order to allow the move. The petition requires a variety of information, including the reason(s) for the move, the specific location of the move (including address, mailing address and phone number if available), a proposal for visitation and parenting schedules after the move, and a notice telling the non-custodial parent how to object to the petition. If the non-custodial parent fails to respond to the petition, the judge will generally allow the move should it be in the child’s best interests. If the non-moving parent does respond, then the case will proceed to a hearing or trial.
How the Court Decides
Florida judges are no different than anywhere else in that they will always make their decision based on the child’s best interests. That being said, in making their decision, the judge will consider how the move will affect the child’s relationship with family or friends in the area, how the move will affect the child’s mental, physical, and emotional health and development, and the reasons for the relocation as well as the non-custodial parent’s reasons for objecting.
Having Your Side Heard
Having a lawyer to represent you and your side of the dispute is critical, especially if you are the non-moving parent and you believe your reasons for objecting are valid. You generally don’t have a lot of time to respond to a proposed move and you could be up against a trial or hearing quickly since by statute relocations are required to take priority in scheduling. If you think a proposed move by your child’s other parent could cause them harm and object to the move, or if you are a parent seeking to relocate with your child, don’t hesitate to contact the lawyers at Vasquez de Lara Law Group today for the skilled family law representation you need!