Relocating with Children after a Divorce
Family law judges are encouraged to give divorcing parents equal access to and responsibility for their children. While this is often in the best interests of the children in question, it can raise a host of difficulties when it comes to relocating, so if you are considering moving or your ex-spouse has stated his or her desire to move with your child, it is critical to speak with an experienced child custody attorney who can protect your parental rights.
Not all moves are considered relocation by family courts. In fact, a move will only qualify as a relocation if the new residence is at least 50 miles from the parent’s home. Furthermore, the change of location must be for more than 60 days, otherwise it is only considered a temporary absence.
Changing a Parenting Plan
When a couple goes through a divorce, a judge issues a parenting plan that details custody arrangements and includes a prohibition against relocation. These plans are considered court orders, so both parties are required to comply with their terms. However, it is possible to have a parenting plan amended when one of the parties wishes to relocate. There are generally two ways to do so, the first of which is by agreement.
Relocation by Agreement
When both parents agree to the relocation of their child, they can avoid going to court and attending a series of hearings. Instead, the parties will only be required to sign a written agreement that:
- States that each party agrees to the relocation;
- Creates a time-sharing schedule for the non-relocating parent; and
- Describes the transportation arrangements related to the new time-sharing schedule.
As long as these requirements are satisfied, the court will presume that relocation is in the best interest of the child and will ratify the agreement without a hearing. However, if one of the parties does not agree to the relocation and an agreement is impossible, the person who wishes to relocate will need to file a petition with the court that includes:
- A description of the new residence, including the physical address;
- The mailing address of the new residence;
- The home telephone number of the intended new residence;
- The date of the proposed relocation;
- A detailed statement of the reasons for the relocation;
- A written job offer if the relocation is based on a change in employment; and
- A proposed revised time-sharing schedule and transportation arrangement.
After the petition has been filed, a family court will order a hearing where both parties will have the opportunity to present their arguments. At this point, the judge will make a decision that it deems is in the best interests of the child. If relocation is found to be in the child’s best interests, the judge will amend the parenting plan. If, on the other hand, relocation is deemed improper, the petitioning parent will be prohibited from moving.
Call an Experienced Child Custody Attorney
Please call 954-945-7591 today to schedule a free consultation with compassionate and experienced Fort Lauderdale child custody lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. to learn more about your parental rights and obligations in regards to relocation. We can assist you throughout each step of your case.