In Florida, while military members and their families are subject to military rules and regulations, they are also bound by the laws of Florida regarding divorce, custody of children and relocation. As always, the primary concern remains the best interests of the children, while also considering the needs and wants of the parents.
A military family may have more than one state in which it can file for divorce or custody. One consideration when choosing where to file may be whether the state’s laws affect a right to relocate with a child. Whenever custody is a factor, the possibility of military deployment or orders to relocate to another state can be a stressful uncertainty. It is important to understand Florida’s laws that affect the children, whether one parent can legally move away with the child from the area and the other parent, and how to do so.
More specifically, Florida has a statute affecting couples with children who divorce within its jurisdiction or otherwise have custody orders in place, and who plan to relocate. Be it the military member or the other parent, Florida statute requires either one to get permission from the other parent to move with the child more than 50 miles from the current address or else obtain permission from the court. This requirement applies even when there is an existing custody order in favor of one of the parents.
The Florida relocation statute does not excuse military members who must obey military orders to relocate. To move with the child, the member must do one of two things. He or she must gain consent from the other parent to relocate or take a request back to the family court. This is a different issue than taking a child temporarily out of the state or country, which Florida also addresses.
Similarly, the non-military parent who may be in Florida only because the military spouse was there on military order, may not move away with the child when the relationship changes, without complying with the Florida law.