If you — as the majority time-sharing parent — are considering relocating with your child due to better job opportunities and a better quality of life elsewhere, you cannot just pack up and leave. Child relocation is a serious issue in divorce cases and is often a tough battleground. If a new job opportunity is taking you over 50 miles from the non-majority time-sharing parent, you must get approval from the other parent in writing or court order. If for any reason the other time-sharing parent refuses to allow the move, the judge will hold a hearing and decide whether or not to allow it. In this case, you must prove to the court that the move will not have any negative impact on the child and is in her best interests.
Florida holds a child’s best interests above that of her parents, even when the parents try to pursue a better lifestyle by finding a job with better pay and benefits that would ultimately benefit the child. If such a move would be perceived as harmful to the child or the child’s relationship with the other parent, the judge can deny the relocation.
What if both parents agree to the move?
When both parents agree to the move they must file a written agreement with the court. This agreement must be in accordance with section 61.13001 of the Florida Statutes. The agreement must include the noncustodial parent’s consent to the move, any proposal to modify visitation rights, and any arrangements both parents have made to enable visitation. The move must also be approved by any other party with time-sharing rights. Even if both parties agree on all terms, it is a good idea to have the court enter an agreed order approving the relocation agreement.
What if the other parent refuses?
If the non-majority time-sharing parent objects to the move the majority time-sharing parent must file a petition for relocation with the court. Such a petition should have the following information:
- Location, address, and telephone number of the new home
- Date the move would take place
- Detailed explanation for the move
- Proposal for new visitation schedule and proposed transportation arrangements
- A notice informing the other parent the procedure for objecting to the petition and outlines the consequences of failing to object
If the other parent doesn’t respond to the petition, the court assumes that the move is in the child’s best interests and allows it if there is no good reason to disallow it. A hearing is held when the noncustodial parent responds.
Parents wishing to relocate must make a compelling case to persuade the judge that the move is in the child’s best interests. When considering relocating with your child after a divorce, you need an attorney like Stephen H. Butter to smooth out the process. Particularly if you have an important job opportunity on the line, it is important to act swiftly and with care. For over 50 years Mr. Butter has served South Florida resolving family law affairs. Contact Mr. Butter directly at (305) 333-7159.