Custody and Relocation

Relocation after a divorce is not all that uncommon. However, if minor children are part of the equation, then certain considerations come into play. If relocation with a minor child will entail a site that is further than fifty miles from the present address, then the custodial parent needs to provide advance notice to the parent who is not considering a move. This intention may be contested by the parent not moving. If the move is contested a formal court notice regarding same is necessary. Be aware that a move without advance notice, and especially after a formal protest has been filed may result in court sanctions. The parent who has relocated may be forced to move back to original jurisdictions and may also run the risk of losing time sharing rights.

Parents who do not agree on relocation may have a Florida family court review the issue and request a temporary solution until final hearings can be held on the issue(s) at hand. There are a multitude of issues that come into play according to Florida laws when relocation has become a contentious issue:

  1. Courts will look at the quality and extent of appreciable involvement the relocating parent has with the child as well as the quality and extent of appreciable involvement the second parent, possible siblings, and significant others have with the minor child.
  2. The chronological age, developmental stage, and overall needs of the child will have an appreciable impact on any decision.
  3. The impact of such a considered move on the emotional, physical, and even educational well-being of the child will also figure into the equation.
  4. How a relationship will be maintained with the parent who is not moving is also considered; more specifically, questions involving access, regular contact, visitation, provisions for sharing time with the minor child, etc. will be questioned.
  5. Financial circumstances of both parties will be reviewed with respect to any potential monetary impact that may present impediments to maintaining the meaningful relationship which is the overall concern
  6. If the child is sufficiently mature, his or her preferences may be considered
  7. The court will seek to ascertain whether this requested move has the capacity to improve/enhance the overall quality of life of the parent petitioning for the move, including but not limited to improved educational opportunities, improved financial considerations, a more stable emotional environment, etc.
  8. Ancillary to the above referenced item, courts can look into the current livelihoods of both parents to decide if a proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic standing/standards of the parent who wishes to move
  9. The court will seek to find out if this proposed move is being made in good faith
  10. The court(s) will certainly look to assess whether the parent filing an objection has met his or her obligations relative to child support, spousal support, payment of any arbitrated marital debt, etc.
  11. Possible career opportunities for the objecting parent can also become part of the reviewed records
  12. For safety reasons, any history of domestic violence, recorded substance abuse, and any other detrimental conduct(s) along with attempts to reconcile the rehabilitate said behaviors will be reviewed

Parents who cannot agree on relocation issues can expect a trial court to review all presented evidence on the above issues with the best interests of the child being central to any decision. Family Court judges will usually enter an order for the creation of a parenting plan delineating each parent’s responsibilities and answering the relocation request. Parental responsibility orders (decision-making authority) will also be formulated.

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