As the economy shifts, and parents may find better work opportunities in other communities, relocation has become a very prominent subject in Florida. Florida law provides very clear guidelines for relocation of a minor child, as well as establishing a new time-sharing plan. These issues must be addressed before relocation takes place. Relocation without prior consent is a severe offense, so ensuring that you are following the guidelines properly before moving is of the utmost importance for your family.

Florida Statute 61.13001 defines relocation as “a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.”

Evaluating the Relocation

Ultimately, the court will need to decide if a relocation is in the best interest of the child.

Several factors that are taken into consideration include:

  • the child’s relationships with both parents, as well as the ability to maintain those relationships
  • the child’s age and current needs
  • the impact that the move will have on the child
  • the logistics of maintaining the child’s relationships with both parents
  • the positive impact on the lives of the parents and child
  • the reasons for relocation
  • whether the move is being made in good faith
  • the compliance of the non-relocating parent to pay child support and alimony, if applicable
  • any history of substance abuse or domestic violence

The Relocation Petition Process

If both parents agree to the relocation of the child, an agreement must be written, which defines a new time-sharing agreement, as well as provide information about transportation arrangements required to maintain that agreement. This must be approved by the court prior to the relocation taking place.

If both parents cannot come to an agreement about the relocation, a Petition to Relocate must be filed with the courts. This is a lengthy petition outlining the location of the new intended residence, new home telephone number, as well as the date of the intended move. This petition must also contain the specific reason for the proposed relocation, which may include a written job offer. The last part of the petition is to include a proposal outlining the changes to the time-sharing schedule along with new transportation arrangements.

Consequences for Not Following the Relocation Process

The most severe consequence for moving a child without following the Relocation Statute, could be the moving parent losing custody of the child. This action will also be taken into consideration when determining time-sharing schedules, and could also cause the courts to order the payment for reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees incurred by the parent objecting to the relocation.

Objection to Relocation

It is possible to file an objection to relocation with the courts. This answer must provide the specific factual basis supporting the reasons to this objection. This may include a statement regarding the amount of participation or involvement the parent has or has had with the child.

The relocation process can be time consuming, may require detailed information and be stressful, but if it has the ability to positively influence your child’s life, it is an important step to take with the courts to ensure their best interests.

If you need help to develop a relocation agreement, or your child has been relocated without your consent, Seff & Capizzi Law Group has the ability to assist with your situation. At Seff & Capizzi Law Group, we regularly assist clients and provide valuable information for those that need assistance in understanding how to approach this particular situation in their own lives.

If you need assistance with creating or modifying a parenting plan, please call us at (954) 920-9220. We have over 40 years of experience and offer a free consultation. Click here for more information about our family law practice and how Seff & Capizzi can help.