How to File for Child Relocation in Florida and Win Your Case
Moving to a new city or town is a big life change that can create both joy and stress. For co-parents and their children, relocation can also cause major disruptions to the parenting plan.
Depending on the specifics, including the distance you and your child plan to move, you’ll need the approval of your ex-spouse or the court before you can pack up and go. If you’re planning to move with your child, understanding the laws and process for filing for child relocation in Florida are the first steps.
Filing for Child Relocation in Florida
Florida law considers a child relocation to be a move of more than 50 miles from the current primary residence for more than 60 consecutive days.
In a child relocation case with a custody plan in place, the co-parent needs to agree to the relocation. In Florida, the parent relocation statute requires the parent or caregiver seeking the relocation to come to a written agreement with the other parent or caregiver or file a relocation petition for permission to move with the child.
Most co-parents have a child custody plan filed with the court. If you don’t have a parenting plan or paternity order in place, however, you may not be required to file for relocation. However, we still highly recommended dotting your ‘i’s’ and crossing your ‘t’s’ by filing a petition.
Regardless of whether you have a parenting plan in place or not, consult an experienced Florida custody relocation lawyer before your move. Your lawyer will make sure you’re following the law and abiding by all court orders.
Relocation When You and Your Ex-Spouse Are in Agreement About the Move
If you and your ex-spouse agree to the relocation, the process should be simple and run pretty smoothly. Work out an agreement for time-sharing, transportation, and any modifications to the existing schedule or routine that will need to change as a result. Then, put the changes in writing and submit them to the court to be ratified by a family law judge.
How to Win a Child Relocation Case in Florida if Your Ex-Spouse Doesn’t Give Consent
Unfortunately, custody relocation agreements are often met with disagreement. If your ex-spouse doesn’t give his or her approval to the relocation, the next step is to file for a petition for relocation to modify the most recent custody order.
If your relocation isn’t voluntary – if you’re facing deportation, for example – you’ll still need to file for a petition. See Castleman v. Bicaldo. A relocation petition is also required in situations that involve seeking permanent guardianship. See T.B. v. Dept. of Children & Families.
Once you’ve drawn up a petition, serve it to your ex-spouse and any other person with visitation rights. If anyone files an objection to the relocation, there will be a hearing to resolve the matter.
A judge’s primary concern in a relocation case is the child and what’s in that child’s best interest. Many factors play into the judge’s decision. Some of the most common are:
- Whether the relocation will have a positive or negative impact on the child’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing
- Age of the child
- Reason for the move
- How involved the non-relocating parent is in the child’s life
- Ability of the non-relocating parent to visit
- Distance of the new location from other family members
- Employment status of both parents
- Educational opportunities in the new location
- Child’s preference
- And other factors as relevant
Winning a child relocation case in Florida comes down to proving to the judge that your child’s life will improve as a result of the move. Bring evidence that shows how your child will benefit from the relocation and how their life will be positively impacted as a result.
You Must Obtain Court Approval in Florida Child Relocation Cases
It’s critical that you handle your relocation case through the court, especially if you and your ex-spouse don’t agree on the terms.
Moving more than 50 miles from your current residence for more than 60 consecutive days without court approval is a violation of your parenting plan and puts you at risk of being held in contempt of court.
If this occurs, you could face changes to the parenting plan and even risk your parental rights. And, if your relocation case changes your current time-sharing arrangement, any child support you receive could also be impacted.
On the flip side, if your ex-spouse relocates with your child and either doesn’t tell you or fails to go through the proper process to get court approval, get an attorney involved immediately. If you attempt to handle the situation on your own without involving the court, you’ll likely make it harder to win your case or prolong the time until the court can intervene.
Child relocation cases in Florida are often complicated, especially if the case goes to trial. We highly recommend you contact a Florida child custody lawyer before you file a petition for relocation. A lawyer with in-depth knowledge of Florida family law can help you reach the outcome you and your child need.
Contact us today for a free family law case evaluation. We’ll listen to your case and explain your rights. When you’re ready to work with an experienced Florida family law and divorce lawyer to support your child relocation case, fill out the form on our Contact Us page or give us a call at (954) 880-1302.