Custody and Child Relocation in Florida

child with box on his head with drawn on smiley face, child custody and relocation in florida

As a working adult, you know your job can offer up plenty of surprises and challenges. So, what happens when you’re told you need to relocate to a new location for work? Whether it’s a great opportunity or not, there’s a lot to consider with relocation. Probably the biggest consideration is how a big move to a new state might impact your children. When you have shared custody because of a divorce, the issue is even more complex. Keep reading to learn more about custody and child relocation.

40% of all divorces involve children. As divorced parents, how do you navigate relocating children? Child relocation can be complicated in a shared custody situation.

Read on to learn more about how to handle child relocation in the State of Florida.

Is It Necessary to File With the Court If Relocating Children?

If you’ve previously filed with the court to seek a custody arrangement, it’s likely it will be necessary to file again if you hope to relocate.

Relocation in Florida is defined as any move that’s 50 miles or more. If your relocation move means you’ll be going more than 50 miles from your current residence, you’ll need to file with the court.

Whether the other parent agrees with the relocation will certainly be a part of the consideration as the courts look at your case.

Choosing to Relocate Without Court Approval

You might be tempted to avoid another court hearing, especially if your move needs to happen quickly. That would be a mistake on your part. If you choose to move without notifying the court, especially if there’s already a court-ordered parenting plan in place, it can mean trouble for you.

The courts don’t look kindly on parents who choose to act of their own free will without following the protocols of the court. Choosing to move your kids without court involvement could impact your child custody going forward.

Relocation With Consent From the Other Parent

If you’re lucky, you may get an understanding ex who’s willing to consent to a move to another state. Do you need to file with the court if you are both in agreement? Yes, you do.

The court wants to know the parenting plan you’ve agreed to. If you and the other parent can agree to an out-of-state move and come to amicable terms for shared custody and visitation, it will be less complicated.

You’ll need to file with the court and provide them with a detailed plan for parenting for both parties.

Relocation Without Consent From the Other Parent

Unfortunately, you may find that the other parent is not in agreement that you move. This can make the potential move more complicated and will require involvement from the court.

As the relocation parent, you’ll need to file a petition with the court that will allow you to move the children. If there are no objections, the court may grant your petition.

However, if the other parent objects to the petition (as they likely will since they don’t agree with the move), then you’ll need to appear before the judge.

The relocating parent will need to substantiate why the move is in the best interest of the child, while the objecting parent will need to show how it’s not in the child’s best interest.

You should know as the relocating parent that moving children without the consent of the other parent can be viewed by the courts as parental kidnapping and subject to penalties under Florida law or if relocating outside the country can be litigated under the Hague Convention on Child Abduction.

Petition for Relocation to the Court and a Distance Parenting Plan

Ultimately, the courts want you to work out a parenting plan or they will need to do it for you. The primary residence will need to be established for the children. Often that will be with the parent with whom the child spends more time. Then the courts will want a spelling parenting plan for how the parents will share custody and visitation.

How Do the Courts Decide What Should Happen?

What happens if you and your ex can’t work out a mutually agreed-upon parenting plan? Then the courts need to decide. The courts will take into account a long list of factors as they decide. This might include:

  • Child’s age and needs
  • Relationship the child has with each parent
  • How the move will impact the child’s development
  • Child’s preference if they’re old enough
  • Cost and ability to maintain visitation for the non-relocating parent
  • Parent reasons for and against the relocation
  • Will the location improve the financial situation for the family?
  • Is the non-relocating parent up-to-date with child support?

Of course, the court will also consider the background of both parents. Are there any legal issues or problems with drugs or alcohol that might impact their parenting?

 What Information Will the Court Want for the Petition for Relocation?

If you can’t come to an agreement with the other parent, you’ll want to file as quickly as possible to seek a solution. The court will want:

  • Details about the relocation
  • Date of the move
  • New address
  • Reasons for the move

The court will also want to hear a proposed parenting plan. They will expect you to propose a solution to parenting.

Get Legal Help Before Filing

With even the most amicable parents, child custody can be messy.  If you and the other parent aren’t seeing eye-to-eye, it can be downright complicated.

It’s in your best interest to seek legal help as quickly as you hear about your relocation. It can pay to have a neutral party who can guide you through the process. Your lawyer can talk with the other parent and work on negotiating an agreement. Sometimes just having a person without a vesting interest can make the negotiations go more smoothly.

The lawyer will also know when it makes sense to actually file a petition and if that move is necessary. The lawyer is the expert and understands how to guide you through the process so you can get what you need and want.

Understanding Child Relocation Laws in Custody

Being a divorced parent with children has plenty of challenges. When you consider child relocation, it can get extra tricky, especially if the other parent objects to the move.

You will need to show the courts why the move is in the best interest of the child and the child being with you is best for them. You’ll want good legal counsel to guide you through this process. Contact us today to discuss your relocation and how you can make sure your kids are a part of the move.