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In any divorce or paternity action the question of relocation comes up: Can I move away with my child? If there is no pending action or court order entered dealing with the custody and control of the child, you may move anywhere.

Once an action is filed regarding the child, Section 61.13001, Florida Statutes will restrict your ability to move away with the child. You may not move with the child more than 50 miles and stay there for over 60 consecutive days without a prior court order or written agreement with the other parent.

If you move without the proper authority, the other parent may obtain a pick up order, enforceable by the local court (in Florida or out of state) and have the child returned to him or her pending a final hearing on the reason for your move. And the court is allowed to use the need for the pickup order in determining the good faith need for the move.

The purpose of the statute is to prevent a vindictive parent from moving as a ploy to limit contact by the other parent. As pointed out in my blog on custody, both parents have equal rights to help raise the child and moving away without a good reason cannot be used to avoid this reality.

On the other hand, there is often a very good reason for the move: A parent is now remarried to a military officer and has been transferred out of state, or a former spouse has obtained a very good job offer out of state that will substantially enhance his or her ability to take care of the child. The standard that the court is required to use is the best interest of the child, given the reason for the move and the previous involvement of the parents.

If the parents are able to come to an agreement, it must be in writing signed by both parties. It must affirmatively show the consent of the parents. It must specify the new time sharing schedule for the non-relocating parent. It must specify the travel arrangements and who will pay for what travel. And it will have to show how the new arrangement affects the mandatory child support calculations. (See my blog on child support).

If there is no agreement, then the parent proposing to relocate must file and serve a petition with the court seeking an order allowing the relocation. This will be treated as a new matter and will require discovery, mediation and a trail before the judge if the mediation fails.

If you need my help, go to my web site at www.peppler or call my office for a consult.

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