Florida Lawyer Handling Relocation with Children
Challenging or Initiating Move-Away Petitions in Florida
The court has no presumption either way when one parent wishes to move out of Florida or to a distant part of the state. The child’s best interests are the only criteria. However, over the years the burden has shifted to make it more difficult for a mother or father to take their kids away from a loving and actively involved parent with the least timesharing (formerly “non-residential” parent) rights. And the law has recently changed regarding the allowable distance.
The Family Law Department of KO Lawyers has served both men and women in these contentious proceedings. Our Fort Lauderdale practice represents clients of Broward County in both in-state relocation and out-of-state custody petitions. We are Board-Certified in marital and family law, with nearly 30 years of legal experience. Call our office at (954) 525-4100, or contact us by email to learn your rights and discuss strategies.
Parent Relocation in Florida
A recent 2006 statute requires a petition and hearing for the parent with the most timesharing (primary residential care or “child custody”) under a parenting plan to move more than 50 miles away — unless the new home is still within 50 miles of the home of the parent with less timesharing (non-residential or non-primary parent). For instance, if you both live in Florida you personally could not move to Miami without court approval, but you could relocate to Miami if the other parent were living in, say, Delray Beach or Boca Raton.
Parents entitled to timesharing (visitation) can work out matters by agreement that shows consent to changes to timesharing for the non-relocating parent and any transportation arrangements. When an agreement cannot be reached about relocating a child, the relocating parent must resort to a petition and court review.
While the primary parent is no longer required to serve notice of the intent to move beyond the 50-mile limit, they must file a petition signed under oath describing move details such as date, location, address, reasons. The non-primary parent then has 20 days to object. If there is no objection, the parent is free to relocate. If there is objection, the court will order a fast-track trial on the issue. The judge considers multiple factors, including:
- The nature of the child’s relationship with the relocating and non-relocating parent
- Age, development, and needs of the child
- The feasibility of continuing a meaningful relationship with the child
- Enhanced quality of life and opportunities for the child
- Reasons for filing or objecting to the relocation
- Economic benefit (increased ability to provide for the child)
- Whether the non-relocating parent has faithfully fulfilled their support obligations
- Opportunities available to the non-relocating parent because of the move
- History of substance abuse (of either parent)
- “Other factors” impacting the child’s wellbeing
Under what situations do the new parent/child relocation laws apply? Whether it’s a new job or for safety reasons, compliance with the state’s new relocation statute only applies to parents with an existing timesharing schedule or a pending case involving a timesharing schedule. Exceptions exist and my firm can help you understand how the laws impact your parent and child relocation situation.
Protecting Your Rights: (954) 525-4100
Whether you are seeking to relocate or challenging such a move as damaging to your relationship with your child, you will need a qualified attorney to prepare your arguments and present your case to the judge. Contact our Ft. Lauderdale office today for a reduced-rate initial consultation.