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Dealing With Relocation in Shared Custody Cases

Child custody situations and working out arrangements regarding child visitation, time-sharing, and shared responsibilities is already difficult enough without having to go back to court to deal with relocation issues. If the move is beyond a certain distance, depending upon your particular time-sharing schedule, it could potentially decrease the amount of time one parent spends with the child.

The Law

Florida state law considers a parent to be relocating if the change of location is at least 50 miles from the principal place of residence at the time the most recent time-sharing order was established, or for at least 60 consecutive days (excluding a temporary absence due to vacation, education, or related to health care for the child). Because it is possible that a relocation dispute may arise if the noncustodial parent objects to the move based on their visitation rights, it is advisable to consult an experienced family law attorney to guide you through the process.

Relocation by Agreement

It is entirely possible for both of the child’s parents (and/or anyone else who has been granted time-sharing with the child) to agree to the relocation and indicate this agreement by putting it in writing such that it reflects their consent and defines the new time-sharing schedule (if it has changed) and any transportation arrangements that go with it.

Petition to Relocate

Absent an agreement, a parent seeking to relocate must file a petition to relocate and serve it on the other parent, describing the address of the new location, home telephone number, date of intended move or relocation, a detailed statement for why the proposed relocation is necessary (if linked to a job offer, that must be attached), a proposal for revised time-sharing with transportation arrangements necessary, and a very specific statement as described in §61.13001(3)(a)(7) here.

Objecting to Relocation

Any objection to a proposed relocation must include the specific factual basis and a statement of the participation or involvement the objecting party has had in the life of the child. The court may grant a temporary order restraining the relocation of the child. In making its decision, the court takes various factors into account:

  • The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent relocating and the other parent, as well as with siblings, half-siblings, and other significant people in the child’s life;
  • The age and developmental stage of the child, the child’s needs, and the likely impact any relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development;
  • The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the child and non-relocating parent given the relocation, and whether it is still possible to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the two;
  • The child’s preference;
  • Whether relocation will enhance quality of life;
  • Reasons for seeking and opposing relocation;
  • Current employment and economic circumstances of each parent;
  • Whether the relocation is sought in good faith;
  • Any history of substance abuse or domestic violence; and
  • Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child.

Contact Us if You Need Help with Relocation during or after Divorce

If you are considering a move with your child, or your ex-spouse may relocate, please contact Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. to schedule a consultation in Fort Lauderdale or Boca Raton. We can answer your questions and help.

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