Under Florida law, "relocation" is defined as a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent 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.
Parents may agree to relocation. The agreement must be:
- Show consent
- Define an access or time-sharing schedule for the non-relocating parent
- Describe transportation arrangements
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Petitions to Relocate
If agreement is not reached, the parent who wishes to relocate must file a petition and serve it on the non-relocating parent. If a parent relocates does so without a valid agreement or a court order, he or she may be subject to contempt and the court can take that into account in future proceedings.
An objection to the petition to relocate must be verified and include a specific, factual basis supporting the reasons against the relocation, including a statement of the amount of participation of involvement the objecting party currently has or had in the life of the child.
The court may grant a temporary restraining order preventing the relocation of a child, an order to return a child, or order some other appropriate remedial relief if the court finds:
- That the petition to relocate does not comply with the petition to relocate requirements;
- That the child has been relocated without a written agreement of the parties or without court approval; or
- From an examination of the evidence presented at the preliminary hearing that there is a likelihood that upon final hearing the court will not approve the relocation of the child.
The court may grant a temporary order permitting relocation of the child pending final hearing if the court finds:
- That the petition to relocate was properly filed and is otherwise in compliance with the requirements of the statute;
- From an examination of the evidence presented at a preliminary hearing, that there is a likelihood that on a final hearing the court will approve the relocation of the child.
Factors A Court Considers In Determining Relocation
- The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent or other person proposing to relocate with the child and with the non-relocating parent, other persons, siblings, half-siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life.
- The age and developmental stage of the child, the needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child.
- The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent or other person and the child through substitute arrangements that take into consideration the logistics of contact, access, and time-sharing, as well as the financial circumstances of the parties; whether those factors are sufficient to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent or other person; and the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent or other person once he or she is out of the jurisdiction of the court.
- The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.
- Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the parent or other person seeking the relocation and the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefits or educational opportunities.
- The reasons each parent or other person is seeking or opposing the relocation.
- The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent or other person and whether the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic circumstances of the parent or other person seeking relocation of the child.
- That the relocation is sought in good faith and the extent to which the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the parent or other person seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and marital property and marital debt obligations.
- The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other person if the relocation occurs.
- A history of substance abuse or domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28 or which meets the criteria of s. 39.806(1)(d) by either parent, including a consideration of the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation.
- Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child or as set forth in s. 61.13.
If you or someone you care about wishes to relocate or fight against a relocation, you need an attorney who will aggressively protect your rights. Heather Bryan Law can help. Please contact us today for a consultation by calling 863-825-5309.