Can I Relocate with My Child After Divorce?
Once a couple divorces, major life changes, like starting a new job or relocating, become much more difficult, especially if children are involved. Courts are primarily interested in the best interests of a couple’s children, so even if one parent has been offered a much better job in another city or out of state, courts are often unwilling to allow relocation with the child if doing so could negatively affect him or her. These matters tend to be complicated, so if you are considering moving and want to take your child with you or your spouse is trying to relocate with your child, you need the advice of an experienced child relocation attorney who can ensure that your parental rights and interests are protected.
Parental Relocation by Agreement
Florida law allows parents to relocate with their children after divorce, but only in certain situations, one of which involves parental agreement. In these cases, parents who come to an out-of-court agreement regarding their child’s relocation, don’t have to go to court to request the move, as long as they sign a written agreement that:
- Reflects both parties’ consent to the move;
- Defines the new time-sharing schedule for the non-relocating parent; and
- Describes any transportation arrangements related to the new time-sharing agreement.
Couples who get this far in their negotiations must then ask the court to ratify the order, although it won’t be necessary to hold an official hearing or present evidence. If neither parent requests a hearing within ten days of the agreement’s submission to the court, then the judge will presume that relocation is in the best interest of the child and will ratify the agreement. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to come to an out-of-court agreement, in which case, one of the parties will need to petition the court. It’s important to note, however, that this is only necessary when the change of location is at least 50 miles from the current residence and will last for at least 60 consecutive days.
Petition to Relocate
When one parent wishes to relocate with a child and the other parent does not, the party who wishes to move must file a petition with the court that contains certain information, including:
- A description of the new residence, including an address and a telephone number;
- The date of the proposed move;
- A detailed explanation for the reason behind the move, including a copy of the job offer if this is the reason for the relocation; and
- A proposed time-sharing schedule, which includes transportation arrangements.
If the other parent objects to the proposal, he or she must respond to the petition within 20 days or risk having the relocation approved. At this point, the court will step in and determine whether the move will materially affect the current custody arrangement by assessing the following factors:
- The nature of the child’s relationship with each parent, as well as any siblings;
- The age and developmental needs of the child;
- The likelihood that the relationship with the non-relocating parent will be preserved;
- The child’s preference, if he or she is deemed to be of sufficient maturity;
- Whether the relocation will enhance the relocating parent’s quality of life;
- Each parent’s financial circumstances; and
- The career opportunities available to the objecting parent if the relocation occurs.
Only after these factors are weighed will a court decide whether relocation is possible.
Get Legal Help Today
To speak with an experienced child relocation attorney about your own pending move and how it could affect your parental rights, please contact dedicated Fort Lauderdale lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today.