If a parent desires to move out of the state with a minor child it is important that the parent be aware of Florida's parental relocation law. A move without specifically following the law's requirements can result in the parent being ordered to return the child to the other parent who resides in Florida.
Relocation is defined as a change in location of at least 50 miles of the principal residence of a parent or other person who the child resides with pursuant to court order. Accordingly, even a move of greater than 50 miles will trigger the relocation law.
The definition of relocation is vitally important as interpreted by Florida courts. The courts have held that the relocation law does not apply if a parent relocates with the parties' child(ren) prior to a divorce or paternity case being filed. In other words the relocating parent does not have to have a written agreement or a court order for a parent to move more than 50 miles including an out of state move. Once the divorce or family case is filed the following discussion applies.
Relocation may take place in only two ways:
- Relocation by agreement
- By court order
- Reflects consent to the relocation.
- Defines a time-sharing schedule for the non relocating parent.
- Describes transportation arrangements, if necessary, for time-sharing.
- Relocating parent must file a petition to relocate with very specific information required to be in the petition.
- The petition must be served on the non- relocating parent. The non-relocating parent is notified in a statement served with a petition that he has 20 days after service of the petition to object in writing. If there is a timely failure to object, the relocation will be allowed, unless it is not in the best interest of the child without further notice and without a hearing.
Relocating with the child without complying with the law subjects the party in violation to contempt and other proceedings to compel the return of the child.
In a contested relocation there is no presumption in favor of or against the request to relocate.Factors to Determine Contested Relocation
The following is a summary of the factors:
- Nature, quality and extent of involvement of the child with each parent.
- The age of the child and the child's physical, educational and emotional needs.
- The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent and the child through substitute arrangements.
- The child's preference considering his age and maturity.
- Will the relocation enhance the quality of life of the relocating parent and child?
- The reason parent opposes relocation.
- The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent.
- That the relocation. In good faith and whether the object in parent has satisfied his financial obligations.
- The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent if relocation occurs.
- History of substance abuse or domestic violence of either parent.
- The other factor that affects the best interest of the child.
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