If you are a divorced or unmarried parent who wants to move to a different part of Florida or to another state or country with your child, it is critical that you are aware of the rules laid out in Florida statute 61.13001. Even if you are not interested in moving away but the other parent might be, it is good to be aware of this statute.
Here are the key points to keep in mind:
The parent planning to relocate with the child must provide the other parent with a Notice of Intent to Relocate. According to the statute, this notice must contain all pertinent information, including the reason for the proposed relocation, date of relocation, new address and contact information, as well as a proposed new visitation schedule with travel arrangements. The notification must also make the other parent aware of his or her right to object to the relocation.
If the non-relocating parent wants to prevent the relocation, he or she must file an objection within 30 days of being served the Notice of Intent to Relocate. The objection must contain the reason that the relocation should be stopped, and it should include a statement about the non-relocating party's current involvement in the child's life.
The objection could result in the court issuing a temporary order to prevent the relocation, or a temporary order authorizing the move away temporarily pending the final decision.
Burden Of Proof
There is no presumption for or against a relocation request. In a disputed relocation case, it falls upon the relocating parent to prove that the relocation will be in the best interest of the child. Is there evidence that it will improve the economic circumstances of the relocating parent, thus benefiting the child financially as well? Will the move allow the child to attend a better school? Will the move bring the child closer to extended family? If the relocating parent provides such evidence, the burden of proof then shifts to the objecting parent to show, through evidence, that relocation is actually not in the child's best interest.
The court will hear both sides and issue orders based on the facts presented.
If both parents agree to the relocation, the previously mentioned steps may not be necessary. However, it is important to formalize the relocation and the new child custody and visitation arrangements, and not just rely on verbal agreements. Creating a relocation agreement and filing it with the court properly provides protection for both parents in the event a dispute arises in the future, and also ensures that each parent's rights and obligations are clearly stated in terms of transportation arrangements and more.
A Lawyer Can Help
Whether you are interested in relocating with your child or you want to stop a relocation, you can benefit from having your case reviewed by an experienced family law attorney. At Wood & Associates, we can guide you through the process as laid out in the Florida relocation statute.