Florida Rules On Parental Relocation

August 19, 2021

As a parent, you have a right to spend time with your children. Even if you and your ex do not get along, your ex cannot deny you access to your children. With all this remote work resulting from the pandemic, many people are realizing that they are no longer tied to a certain location for work. As a result, moving to another part of the state or country has now become a reality. But if you have a custody order, the law says that you cannot simply pack up and move your kids to another location without permission from your ex or the court. This law applies to any parental relocation that is more than 50 miles from where you currently live. Here’s more on parental relocation, and what you can do if you need help in your custody and relocation matter.

Does Florida’s Relocation Law Apply To Me?

If you have a valid custody order or a paternity case that has been filed, then you will likely need permission from your ex or the court to relocate. To be sure, the law does not prevent you from moving any time you please. What the law does say is that if you decide to move, then you may not be able to bring your kids with you or continue with your visitation schedule unless you receive permission from your ex or the court. If you violate that law, then you may face a contempt of court action and the potential loss of your custody rights. Again, Florida’s relocation law only applies if you relocate more than 50 miles away from your current residence.

How Can I Legally Relocate?

By Agreement: There may be circumstances where it is necessary for you to relocate. Your job could assign you to another area, or you may want to move closer to your family or friends. In these scenarios, you may be able to work out an agreement with your ex. To do this, you will obviously need to communicate to them your desire to move and why. You may also need to alter your custody agreement to reflect the change. This may require you to make an adjustment to the time that you spend with your children. If you plan on relocating across the country, then you may need to work out an agreement where your children will spend a part of the year with you, and the remainder with your ex. How the cost of travel will be paid will also need to be included in your updated custody agreement. It is important that you understand that the agreement that you work out with your ex will need to be approved by the court before you can relocate.

By Court Order: If you and your ex cannot come to an agreement, then you will need to ask the court to come to a decision on whether you are allowed to relocate. In order to do this, you will need to file a Petition to Relocate. Also, you’ll have to notify all affected parties (e.g. your ex) of your petition and court dates. What this means is that if the child’s grandparents have visitation rights, then they will also need to be alerted to your desire to relocate. If your ex or any other person(s) that has court ordered visitation rights does not attend the relocation hearing, then the judge will likely grant your request. If they do attend, then a hearing will be conducted in front of a judge where evidence and testimony will be taken. The judge will then make a decision based on what they believe is in the best interest of the child. 

Factors The Court Will Consider

In the event that you have a relocation hearing, the court will look at a number of factors according to Florida law in coming to a decision on your request to relocate. Still, it is important that you understand that the court can also look at anything it believes will help it come to a decision on what is in the child’s best interest. Here are some of the major factors:

  1. Your child’s relationship with you, your ex, family members, and friends. If your child has long standing relationships in their current location, then the court may be hesitant in uprooting them.
  2. The impact the move will have on your child’s educational, psychological, and emotional development. Moving to a new area and changing schools can have a negative impact on a child. The court may look to limit any change that will disrupt your child’s development.
  3. Whether it is possible for your child to maintain a relationship with the parent who is not relocating. Moving across the country may make it difficult for your child to maintain their current relationship with you or your ex. There are also other considerations that the court will look at concerning the new proposed custody arrangement such as, expense, travel, and access to the parent that has relocated.
  4. Where your child would prefer to live. Your child’s preference will be looked at while keeping in mind that where an older child wants to live may be given more consideration. 
  5. Whether the move will improve the parents’ quality of life. A relocation that significantly improves the lives of everyone involved will be preferred over one that only improves the life of the parent that is trying to move. 
  6. The parent’s rationale for relocating, and the other parent’s rationale for opposing it. The court will listen to both you and your ex’s positions on the relocation. 
  7. Each parent’s current work and financial situation, and whether the relocation is necessary to improve the circumstances of the parent trying to move. You will likely not be able to relocate just because you feel like it. You may have to show that it is necessary to improve your situation. 
  8. Whether the move is being requested in good faith. You will likely not be granted permission to move if the court believes you are doing it out of spite or revenge.
  9. The employment and other opportunities available to the parent that is against the move if it were to happen. If you are seeking to relocate, then the court will look at how this will affect your ex’s employment and financial situation.
  10. A history of drug or alcohol abuse or domestic violence. Clearly a move that is being requested due to those factors may heavily influence the court’s decision. 
  11. Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child

Florida Parent Relocation Attorneys

Relocation can be a thorny issue that necessitates the court’s involvement. Relocation rules are complex in Florida, so if your aim is to either relocate or prevent your ex from doing so, you will want to have a skilled family law attorney on your side. They can provide you with useful guidance on Florida’s relocation rules, and how to overcome obstacles relating to them. The Joseph Firm, P.A. is comprised of skilled family law attorneys who are ready to help you with relocation, child custody and other matters relating to your family. To learn more, call The Joseph Firm, P.A. at 305.501.0992 or contact us online.