Florida’s Custody Relocation Laws
There are a variety of reasons why a parent would decide to relocate with his or her children, including everything from remarriage or a new job to poor health and a desire to be closer to family. For those who share custody of their children, however, relocation is not as simple as picking up and moving. Instead, both parents must agree to the move and if this proves impossible, the relocating party must petition the court for permission. Obtaining permission to relocate with one’s children after divorce can be complicated, so if you are considering relocating and share custody of your children with a former partner, it is important to contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale child relocation attorney who can advise you.
In Florida, relocation (for child custody purposes) is defined as a change in the location of a parent’s principal residence. The change of location must also:
- Be at least 50 miles from the residence where the parent lived when the original custody order was issued; and
- Last for at least 60 consecutive days.
A temporary absence for the purpose of vacation, education, or obtaining health care for a child do not qualify as relocation.
Relocation by Agreement
There are two main ways to legally relocate with one’s child after divorce, the first of which is known as relocation by agreement. Relocation by agreement occurs when both of a child’s parents agrees to the child’s relocation and enter into a written agreement that:
- Reflects their consent to the move;
- Defines a new time sharing schedule for the non-relocating parent; and
- Describes the transportation arrangements related to time sharing following relocation.
Once a child’s parents have entered into a relocation agreement, they must seek ratification of the agreement by court order. Unless one of the parties requests it, the parents need not attend an evidentiary hearing on the matter. Instead, the court will assume that relocation is in the best interests of the child without the need for a hearing.
Petition to Relocate
When two parents are unable to reach an agreement regarding their child’s relocation, the relocating party must file a petition with the court that contains:
- A description of the new residence, including the address and telephone number;
- The date of the proposed relocation;
- Details about the specific reasons for the proposed relocation;
- A copy of the written job offer if relocation is being attributed to new employment; and
- A proposed post-relocation schedule for time sharing, including details about transportation arrangements.
If the non-relocating parent objects to the petition, he or she will have 20 days to submit a response. If the other parent fails to object to the relocation, the court will approve the petition unless doing so would not be in the child’s best interests. If, on the other hand, the non-relocating parent submits a timely objection to the petition, the relocating parent will be barred from moving until the conclusion of a temporary hearing and subsequent trial.
Contact Our Office by Phone or Online Message
Contact experienced child relocation attorney Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. to learn more about child custody and the relocation process in Florida. Call us at 954-945-7591 or fill out our confidential contact form for more information.