Once parents are divorced and a marital settlement agreement is in place there are still restrictions and rules to be followed in the children’s best interest. A parent that wishes to relocate must Follow the child relocation guidelines established under Fla Stat. 61.13001.(More on this law will be discussed below) A parent needs to understand that these rules are in place to protect the child’s best interest. If a parent chooses to relocate to another state, it would be impossible to maintain an equal time sharing schedule or to continue in their same school, see the same physician and be part of the same extracurricular activities. It is for this reason that the law limits the distance a parent can relocate a child without consent.
What Is Relocation?
In the state of Florida, relocation is when a parent changes their principle residence. Fla Stat. 61.13001(e) states that:
“Relocation” means a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.”
This means that a parent wishing to change their residence location at least 50 miles from their original residence at the time they received a last decision in Court, and intends to stay at the new location for at least 60 days the parent must follow certain guidelines established in this statute either by an agreement or by filing a petition for relocation with the Court.
How Can A Parent Relocate Legally?
Relocation By Agreement
Relocation by agreement is the best course of action for parents to relocate. This calls for both parents to come to an agreement as to the relocation, for both to consent the relocation and for both parents to establish new time sharing guidelines, transportation and child support if necessary. Once the parents agree, they may sign a new agreement and process such agreement through the Court in order to make it valid.
Here is a checklist as to what parents may need in order to consider this process. Parents can approve relocation with their child if they receive signed approval to a written agreement that properly displays:
- Consent to the relocation.
- Defines an access or time-sharing schedule for the parties that aren’t relocating,
- Properly describing any transportation arrangements related to access or time-sharing.
If all these steps can be met, then the agreement can be submitted to a Court where the agreement can be ratified.
Relocation By Petition
There are circumstances where parents do not agree on the relocation of children and in these cases the relocating parent must file a Petition with the Court and serve it on the non-relocating parent in order to try the relocation process. In these cases, the parent must provide a comprehensive description of where, when and why they plan to relocate. They must also provide a visitation schedule after relocation and a transportation plan for the parties not relocating. The final decision is made in the best interest of the child and made by the Court.
When deciding whether to approve the parents petition for relocation the Court may take into consideration several factors that represent the best interests of the child. Such factors may include certain aspects of the child’s life, health, education and in some cases the child’s preference, the impact the relocation will have on their development, the expenses associated with visiting the child for the non-relocating parent along with many more. These decisions are not easy and in many cases a mediation can be had by the parties in order to try and come to an agreement.
Relocation Without Court Approval
Relocating without Court approval is not recommended. If a parent were to relocate without court approval, a judge may find them in contempt of court because they are violating the last Order which sets the time sharing schedules. To explain it simply, a Court Order is law once ratified by the judge so by relocating without approval the parent may be breaking the law set by the Court. This could lead to legal consequences for the parent including the parent being responsible for the attorney’s fees of the other parties involved along with changes in the custody arrangements, or full loss of custody in extreme cases.
Ultimately, in some cases it is possible that a parent may be able to relocate if they wish without court approval if its within 50 miles of their current residence, if the Marital Settlement Agreement and Parenting Plan say otherwise then those are the rules to be followed by Court Order. In general, if they wish to move themselves and their children anywhere further than 50 miles past their current residence it is strongly encouraged that they obtain legal counsel as the relocation process can be rather complex and difficult.
PereGonza The Attorneys can offer a free consultation and give you insight on what the best course of action for your specific case may be. Fill out our personal intake form for more information.