The laws regarding relocating with a minor child(ren) are very detailed and are strictly enforced by the Court. Florida has a “relocation statute”. There are very serious consequences for a parent who doesn’t comply with the relocation statute.
The statute applies anytime that a parent wants to relocate to a residence at least 50 miles from their previous principal residence. Furthermore, the statute is applicable when there already is an order in place establishing or modifying timesharing or there is a pending case between the parents regarding timesharing.
Even if the parents have agreed to the relocation, compliance with the statute is always required. The statutes contains provisions regarding what is required to be included in an agreement relating to relocation.
If a parent does want to relocate, then they must file and serve the other parent with a “Petition to Relocate”. The Petition to Relocate is required to contain several very specific terms. If all of the required provisions are not in the Petition, then it will be deemed legally insufficient and relocation will not be granted.
The other parent has 20 days to object to the relocation and must file and serve the other parent with a written objection which must be in accordance with the relocation statute. Again, if the other parent doesn’t comply, then relocation will be granted.
If a parent relocates without complying with the relocation statute then this subjects the parent to contempt and the Court can do several things including ordering the immediate return of the child.
If the objecting parent timely files his or her objection, then the Court will hold a contested hearing on the issue of relocation.
In deciding the relocation issue, the Court shall evaluate several factors which are as follows:
- 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 nonrelocating 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 nonrelocating 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 nonrelocating 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.