Confused child with paper parents wondering about relocation

We cannot always plan for everything life throws at us. Sometimes events will cause us to move unexpectedly without much notice. Moving becomes even more complicated if you have a parenting plan as a result of a divorce or paternity action.  Depending on the specifics of your relocation, Court approval may be needed. If court approval is required, you may need to petition for relocation in Florida. A child custody attorney in Tampa can help with filing the petition, if necessary.

Florida child custody law can require a parent to obtain approval from their ex or a judge before moving more than 50 miles away. See Florida Child Custody Statute 61.13001. Failure to obtain abide by the law can result in contempt of court. Additionally, the court can compel the return of the child and take the parent’s actions into account when determining custody.

Do I Need To File a Custody Case To Move With My Child?

If there has previously been a child custody or paternity case filed, you will likely need to file a petition for relocation. After a parenting plan has been issued in Florida, steps must be taken before relocating with the child. Under Florida child custody law, relocation is any move more than 50 miles away from the current residence. If the parents are not in agreement, the court will need to intervene to decide the relocation. In cases such as these, it is crucial to have a child custody attorney at your side.

If a parenting plan or paternity order was never issued, you might not be required to file for relocation. However, in many cases, it is still recommended to file for relocation, even if it is technically not required. Otherwise, you run the risk of the other parent filing a custody case in Florida soon after the move. Judges may not view the relocation favorably and can require the child to be returned to the other parent. This is especially a concern when a parent moves without first obtaining the other parent’s approval.

Relocation Without Court Approval

In relocation cases, it is essential not to resort to self-help. Self-help refers to taking the law into your own hands, regardless of court approval. Moving outside of the fifty-mile radius without first obtaining court approval can be a violation of the parenting plan. A violation such as this can result in changes to your rights and responsibilities as a parent.  Family law is inter-connected:  a parenting plan affects time-sharing, time-sharing affects child support payments, and so on.

It is also very likely a move of this nature would affect your ex’s visitation rights. If so, this could put you in further violation of the parenting plan. If you are found to be in contempt, the judge can impose sanctions. These sanctions can include but are not limited to:

  • Being ordered to pay the other parent’s legal fees
  • Attend court-ordered counseling
  • Loss of timesharing with the child and custody rights
  • Denial of the relocation request
  • Permanent changes to the parenting plan

Similarly, if your ex relocates without telling you or obtaining court approval, you should contact a child custody attorney. Family law judges do not want a parent to attempt to remedy the situation on their own without seeking court intervention. Resorting to self-help can significantly impact your ability to win a child relocation case in Florida.

Relocation With Consent From The Other Parent

To be an effective relocation agreement, both parents must agree to the terms. Additionally, all other parties entitled time-sharing with the child must also agree to the relocation. The agreement must be reduced to writing and include a parenting plan. The parenting plan must detail the time-sharing schedule for custody after the relocation occurs. Parents should also account for and describe the transportation arrangement related to time-sharing in the parenting plan. Moreover, to be legally valid, the agreement must be submitted to a court with competent jurisdiction. Lastly, the agreement must be ratified by a family law judge.

Relocating When The Other Parent Objects

If the other parent does not agree to the relocation, the relocating parent must file a petition to relocate. The other parent and all other parties entitled to time-sharing be served with a copy of the petition. If no objection to the petition is timely filed, the court may grant the petition to relocate without an evidentiary hearing. See Florida Rules of Civil Procedure.  If no objection is filed it will be presumed that the relocation is in the child’s best interests. See Florida Child Custody Case Porras v. Porras.

If the nonrelocating parent objects to the relocation, there must be a hearing or trial before the relocation can occur. An objection to relocation must be verified and include the factual basis for why the relocation should be denied. Moreover, the objection must include a statement outlining the involvement that the nonrelocating parent has had with the child. The Florida child relocation objection process can be confusing without legal training. If you need assistance fighting a relocation case, contact a child custody attorney in Tampa for counsel.

Petition For Relocation In Florida & Long Distance Parenting Plan

If you move more than 50 miles away from the principal residence, you may need a long-distance parenting plan.  The principal place of residence would have been established in the initial parenting plan. Most likely, it is the address of the parent with the majority of time-sharing responsibilities according to the original parenting plan.  If you have not yet finalized your initial parenting plan, you can add the relocation to the case.

If you already have an established parenting plan, you should file the petition for relocation right away. A child custody attorney can assist with filing the documents on your behalf and navigating the case through court. You are not required to hire a child custody attorney, but it is highly recommended to do so.

What To Include In a Petition For Relocation In Florida

If there is no agreement, you should file the petition for relocation in Florida without delay. The petition for relocation in Florida should include details about the relocation. The petition should include the date of the move, new address, and reasons for the move. Additionally, it should consist of a proposed parenting plan. The parenting plan should specify how you plan to exercise timesharing, considering the distance. Moreover, formal notice of the petition would be required. See Hobe Sound v. First Union

After the other parent has had a chance to respond to your petition for relocation in Florida formally, a court hearing will be conducted.  The judge will make its decision based on the best interests of the child. See Florida child custody case Mize v. Mize. The judge’s primary concern will be the needs of the child, not the parent’s desires.

How To Win a Child Relocation Case in Florida When A Parent Objects

If a valid objection is filed, there must be a hearing or trial before the relocation can occur. The relocating parent will have the burden of proving the relocation will be in the child’s best interests. Therefore, you need to prove to the judge the child will have a better life at the new location. An experienced attorney should be able to help identify the key issues the judge will be focusing on. Some of the factors the judge can consider in a child custody relocation case are below.

  • The child’s preference
  • Whether or not the relocation will enhance the quality of life for both the relocating parent and child
  • The impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development
  • Each parents reasons for the relocation or objection
  • The nature and extent of involvement both parents have had with the child
  • The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent and whether the relocation is necessary to improve the economic conditions.

The above list is non-exhaustive; a court will consider many other factors in relocation cases. For more information, see Florida child custody statute 61.13. If you need assistance with a specific relocation case, contact a child custody law firm for advice.

In child custody cases, it is vital to understand how judges think and process these sorts of cases. The judge will have a lot of discretion on who wins a Florida relocation case. An experienced lawyer should be able to present the facts in a way that is most favorable to their client. If you need information on how to win a child relocation case in Florida, contact Florida Law Advisers.

Consult a 5-Star Child Custody Relocation Lawyer In Tampa

If you are defending a relocation or need to relocate, contact us today to speak with a Tampa family lawyer. At Florida Law Advisers, we take these matters very seriously and will stand firm for what is fair. We have years of experience in both advocating for and against relocation.

Regardless if both parents mutually agree or are engaged in a fierce battle for their custody rights, we can help. Our team of experienced child custody lawyers is committed to providing top-notch legal representation at a reasonable cost. If you need legal counsel, call us today. We are available to answer your call 24/7.

Frequently Asked Questions

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