It is natural to consider relocating following a divorce. A new place can provide a refreshing outlook on life and allow you to move on. However, relocation following a divorce is not as simple as packing up and leaving, especially when children are involved. Below, we discuss the various requirements regarding relocating with children after a Florida divorce.
First, we should define what relocation means according to Florida law. Florida Statute 61.13001 defines the regulations regarding parental relocation with a child. According to this statute, relocation is defined as a permanent change of a parent’s primary location more than 50 miles away from the last address indicated on the previously approved time-sharing plan for more than 60 days. Temporary absences for the child’s education, vacation, or medical care are not formal relocations.
If both parents agree to the new arrangement, they can create a new time-sharing schedule that considers the parent’s new address. The time-sharing agreement should discuss when and how often the child will spend time with the relocating parent. The arrangement should also specify the logistics of transportation and the costs associated with it. Once parents create and agree on an arrangement, they should sign the new agreement and file it with the family court for ratification. In these instances, there is usually no need for a formal hearing. After the agreement is ratified, the parents can enact the time-sharing agreement immediately.
If there is a disagreement about one parent relocating with a child, the parent wanting to move will need to file a Petition For Relocation with the court to serve the other parent with their intentions. This petition should include the parent’s new address, contact information, and tentative relocation date. The petition should also have a proposed time-sharing schedule and transportation plan. Lastly, the petition should offer reasons why the parent desires to relocate, such as a formal job offer or home closing documents.
Once the petition is created, filed with the court, and served to the other parent, the non-relocating parent has 20 days to provide a written response to the petition. The response should include reasons why the parent is opposed to the relocation. A judge could grant the request without a hearing if the non-relocating parent refuses to respond to the petition. That is why it is important to contact a family law attorney to help draft an adequate response to the petition. Once the court receives the response, a hearing will be set within 30 days, where a judge will decide whether the request will be granted.
Several factors determine whether a judge will grant the child permission to relocate with the parent, whether out of state or more than 50 miles away. These factors include, but are not limited to:
- Ability to maintain a parental relationship with both parents
- The child’s age
- The impact the relocation will have on the child
- Cost and logistics of visitation
- Life improvement for the child
- The child’s personal preferences
If you attempt to relocate your children without prior court approval, you could be held in contempt of court. You may also face other penalties, such as a temporary order requiring the child to be returned to the non-relocating parent or restraining the child from relocating. These issues will also be factors when considering whether the request is ultimately granted. You could also be forced to pay the non-relocating parent’s court fees.
If you or your ex-partner wish to relocate with your children after a divorce is finalized, it is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney such as Thomas R. Peppler. Our Central Florida attorney will help you go through the proper channels to ensure your request is granted. Call our Oviedo office at 407-278-6213 for a consultation regarding your specific circumstances.