How Does Relocation Affect Child Custody in Florida?
Life is all about change, and the saying is very true when it comes to the months and years that follow the finalization of your divorce. A new job, remarriage, or other circumstances may mean you or your former spouse need to relocate, which can create some legal complications when it comes to your minor child. Depending on how far one of you wants to move, there are implications for your custody and visitation arrangement. Legally, neither of you can just pack up and leave with the child –without complying with Florida’s statute on parental relocation.
As such, you’re probably wondering how the laws work when a parent seeks to move and what happens when there are disputes regarding relocation. Because of the legal complexities, you should trust a Florida child custody attorney to represent you in connection with the process. For informational purposes, some background information may be helpful.
Relocation Basics: Under Florida law§ 61.13001, “relocation” involves one parent moving 50 or more miles from the current residence for 60 days or more. You don’t trigger the statutory process on relocation if you’re only moving within a few miles or are just leaving for a shorter period of time. In addition, you may not have to go through a full court proceeding if you and your child’s other parent can agree upon the relocation arrangement. It’s possible to avoid a hearing when you both sign a written agreement that:
- Indicates your consent relocation;
- Provides a time-sharing schedule; and,
- Describes how parents will address transportation details for visitation.
You can file the signed document with the court and have it approved without a hearing on the matter.
Petition and Hearing on Child Relocation: Moving to a new location is more complex if you can’t agree, the court must make a determination after conducting a hearing. The process starts by one parent filing a petition for relocation, along with relevant and specific details outlined in the statute. The non-relocating parent must file a response, in which he or she will state grounds for why the petition should not be granted. During the hearing, the court will consider how relocation of a parent affects the child’s best interests. There are several statutory factors that the judge must weigh, such as:
- The child’s relationships with each parent and how the move will affect their relationship;
- The child’s age, maturity level, and needs;
- How the move will affect the child’s development;
- Any history of abuse or violence; and,
- Many others.
Reach Out to a Dade City, FL Child Custody Lawyer
Whether it’s you or your child’s other parent seeking to relocate with a child, you should consult with an experienced Dade City child custody attorney regarding your rights and responsibilities. Our team at The Law Office of Laurie R. Chane can advise you on the process and assist in drafting an agreement, but we’re also willing to represent you in court if it’s necessary to conduct a hearing. Please call 352-567-0055 or visit us online today to schedule a consultation at our office.