After parents get a divorce, it's not unusual for one or more aspects of their lives to change significantly as the years go by. Whether one parent went back to school and earned a degree in a new field, or if another parent fell in love with someone in another state and wanted to relocate to begin their new life together, as people move on with their lives, they often times find the need or desire to move out of the area.
When the party that wants to move is the primary residential parent, they can't necessarily just pick up and move away with their child, especially in cases where the court has ordered shared parental responsibility amongst both parents.
There are many valid reasons why the primary residential parent may want to move:
- They may want to move closer to family where there will be more emotional support and help with taking care of the child
- They may have received a job offer that would dramatically improve the child's standard of living
- They may need to move for a new spouse's job.
In order for a primary residential parent to move, they will need to petition the courts for an approval first.
What can I do if My Ex-Spouse is Trying to Move with My Child?
If you are a non-custodial parent, you may have major concerns about your ex-spouse relocating – as they would be taking your child with them. Fortunately, there are ways in which you can petition for a modification before the move occurs. In doing so, you may be able to increase your involvement in the custody arrangement, which would effectively provide you with more of a say in the matter of your child's relocation. The court has the power to deny the other parent's relocation requests, as well, so you should not hesitate to organize a case.
Factors the Court Considers in a Relocation
The Florida Courts do not make any presumption in favor or against a request to relocate when the primary residential parent seeks to move out of the area or out of state with the child. Because such a move can certainly affect the current schedule and access with the secondary residential parent, the court must carefully examine all of the relevant facts in order to determine if such a move would be in the best interests of the child.
In cases of a relocation request, the courts must consider:
- If the move would improve the child's quality of life.
- The current visitation arrangement and to what extent it has been exercised.
- If the primary residential parent is likely to comply with the new visitation arrangement.
- Whether the new visitation arrangement would be adequate enough to facilitate a meaningful and continuing relationship with the secondary residential parent.
- Whether one or both parties could reasonably afford the costs of transportation.
- Whether the move would be in the best interests of the child.
For those arrangements where shared parental responsibility has been awarded, the courts will carefully consider the child's best interests. Such factors that go into determining the best interests of the child include: 1) the love and affection between the child and the secondary residential parent, 2) the child's home, school and community ties, 3) the mental and physical health of both parents, 4) any history of domestic violence, 5) any history of drug or alcohol abuse, 6) the permanence of the existing custodial home, and 7) the moral fitness of each of the parents.
Relocation Procedures in Florida
This situation may also affect the non-custodial parent. He or she will most likely desire to have their voice heard in the situation because it will affect their chance of seeing the children.
Either party involved in the situation will probably require legal representation to have their individual rights protected. The non-custodial party may request a modification of child custody prior to this relocation. If you are a parent involved in a relocation situation, you will have to understand the affect it may have on the parenting plan and court orders. The modification of child custody or on a parenting plan can only be executed after several factors are clearly evaluated.
To adequately ensure that all parties' rights are valued, the following factors will have to be taken into consideration:
- Parenting plan agreement
- Visitation schedule
- Reasons for relocation
- Benefits of relocating
- Distance from present location
There is no promise that the court will approve the relocation, and if they do not, the court order will not condone any relocation efforts. It is very important to enlist help from a strong and capable lawyer so that all factors can be worked out prior to requesting the relocation.
Work with My Firm on Your Relocation Case
Relocations can be a sensitive issue for all parties involved, and the outcome of such a move could have a significant impact on many lives. Whether you are the primary residential parent who is seeking to relocate to another county or another state with your child, or if you are the secondary residential parent who is seeking to contest such a move, as a custody attorney with over two decades of experience working in matrimonial and family law, I am well-qualified to help you prepare your case and present it before the family court judge.
I understand how relocation cases are not only important matters, but their outcome can affect your child's life and your relationship with them for years to come. At Charles E. Willmott, P.A., you will get superior representation from an attorney that is Board-Certified in divorce and family law; there are only a handful of attorneys that are Board-Certified by The Florida Bar, and only those that are certified can advertised they are experts in a certain legal field.
When you are dealing with a relocation matter that is so important, you want to trust that your attorney is competent enough to handle the job effectively on your behalf.
Contact me today for more information on Florida custody laws. I look forward to helping you achieve the outcome you are hoping for.
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