Those who divorce with minor children in the picture do not get to make a clean break. In most cases, barring extraordinary circumstances, you can expect to remain in touch with your ex on a regular basis to ensure the children’s well-being. One of the consequences includes limitations on your ability to move away with your minor child.
A parent who simply takes a minor child and moves away can face serious consequences that may include loss of custody and contempt of court charges. For this reason, it is important to understand your obligations and work with a qualified attorney to ensure compliance with the law.
What counts as moving away
According to Florida law, relocation in this context means changing your primary residence to a location at least 50 miles from the original residence. The law excludes temporary moves such as traveling for vacation, medical needs or education. The move must be for at least 60 days.
The Statute applies in the absence of court order provisions
When a court order specifically discusses the issue of future relocation, you must follow its provisions or apply for a modification before taking any action. When the court order does not set forth specific rules for handling relocation, the Relocation Statute fills that gap.
Asking the other parent to consent to the move
One appropriate path to relocation is getting the other parent’s agreement, which should be in writing. To be on the safe side, many recommend getting court approval for the agreement before actually moving. The agreement may also have to contain specific legal language, so you should consider having an experienced attorney draft it for you.
Petitioning the court to allow the move
If the other parent does not agree, you will need to file a Petition to Relocate with the court. This is a highly complex and formal petition which can get thrown out for lack of compliance with a variety of technicalities. Your petition will have to convince the court that relocating would be in the best interests of the child; you may also have to address counter-arguments from the other parent. Each case is individual and judges try to balance many different, sometimes competing, considerations as they deliberate on the 11 factors the law lists to determine whether to grant the petition.