Moving With A Child After Divorce

Moving With A Child After Divorce

Child Custody and Residence: Can You Move out of State After Divorce?

Child custody situations can sometimes be a frustrating arrangement. When something occurs that requires the custody arrangement to be altered further, it is important you know your rights and the potential outcomes of a court decision. One of the most common scenarios that you should prepare yourself for is relocation.

Unless you and the other parent make an agreement before the move, a relocation dispute may be filed by the parent whose visitation with the child is negatively affected by the move. In such cases, the courts are left to decide whether the relocation requires a redrafting of the original child custody contract. In some instances, the decision may require a parent to stay in a state, or lose/limit their visitation/custodial rights to a child.

Similar to many other child custody laws, the exact situation you may find yourself in will depend on the state you reside in. Due to this, it is important that you always consult with your family law attorney before preparing to move out of state.

Notice and Consent of Other Parent and/or Court are Required

Most states require an official written notice be delivered to the non-moving parent within a certain timeframe. In the state of Florida, under Florida Statute 61.13001, the moving party must either receive consent from the other parent or an order from the Court prior to the move taking place. Obtaining Consent During Formation of Initial Agreement is Recommended

Preparing for the potential move during the original child custody agreement drafting is extremely helpful in the long run. Some parents will include a clause in their custody agreement that specifies scenarios will take place if one of the parents moves, saving both parties money and tons of frustrating hours in and out of the courtroom. In some cases, a proposed visitation schedule will be drafted alongside this relocation clause, to save even more time.

Under What Circumstances Must I File a Petition to Relocate?

Parenting to the fullest extent of your abilities is something every parent strives toward. Providing the best education, comfort and safe environments for your child to grow up are often the top priorities of caregivers. A stable family can help to ensure this, but, unfortunately, an unstable family can make it nearly impossible. In these cases, relocating your child into new circumstances under which you can provide the best possible care for your child may be necessary.

If you find yourself in this situation, you must make sure that you go about filing for the relocation in the proper manner. When done incorrectly, relocation can turn into an ugly legal mess that will just further increase the stress in your life. Ensuring that this effort to make your child’s life better goes as smoothly as possible is your responsibility as a parent.

Petition to Relocate After Divorce

In order to relocate with your child, you must file a “petition to relocate” with the proper Florida family court. This is a legal necessity unless it has been pre-negotiated in a “relocation agreement” that you can relocate with the child to certain areas. In most cases, however, any caregiver seeking relocation must serve the petition to relocate to the other guardian in order to begin the process.

New Location Details

Aside from needing to have the petition signed under oath, you will need to provide a complete list of contact and location information for the area you are relocating to. This will include things such as your telephone number, new permanent address, and a date of intended relocation. Finally, you will have to provide a detailed explanation for the planned relocation and a proposed schedule for new visiting hours for each parent.

What Counts as a Relocation?

Understanding what kind of move counts as a legally binding relocation can help save you time, money and frustration. Several criteria must be met in order for your move to a new location to be considered a legal relocation. First and foremost, any area less than 50 miles away from your current residence is not considered relocation in the eyes of the law. You may move yourself and your child in this range at any time without permission from the courts or co-parents. Additionally, you must be planning on staying in the new location for at least 60 consecutive days for your change in address to be considered relocation.

It is important to remember that in the case of medical emergencies, vacations and education based travel, that you will rarely have to file for relocation. However, you may need written permission from any co-parents depending on how long these activities last. Keeping knowledgeable about the legal specificities around these scenarios can be difficult, so always make sure to turn to your attorney for sound legal advice.

Not all Petitions for Relocation are Approved

Not all petitions for relocation will be approved by the courts or co-parents. In order for a party to object to the relocation, they must file a written objection within 20 days of the filing of the petition. If a co-parent fails to respond to the petition at all, either positively or negatively, the relocation automatically becomes approved after this 20 day period. However, if it is decided that the relocation is not in the best interests of the child or that it is somehow a threat to its well-being, then the permission to relocate will sometimes be overdrawn. This is an uncommon legal occurrence but has happened before.

If an objection is filed, however, it must require the particular reasoning behind the guardian’s denial. This information will be public record so that if their reasoning is unsound you will be able to take the proper legal action to try and dismiss it. Thankfully, the legal process behind relocation agreements is well laid out.

Temporary Relocation Order

During the relocation process, the court may decide to grant a temporary order that legally restricts the relocation of a child. This is to keep either guardian from fleeing with the child. With a legally binding order in place, it is less likely that brash decisions that will negatively affect the child will be reached. If a parent were to attempt relocation during this period, it would cast a very negative appearance on them and likely lead to a flat out denial during the final relocation decision.

Factors the Family Court Considers

When any legal proceedings regarding relocation rights are occurring, there are many factors the court will take into consideration. The developmental stage of the child, their emotional and physical needs, their education situation and requirements and finally the child’s age are among the most important factors. Additionally, if the court determines that relocation is primarily motivated by an unfounded desire to keep another co-parent from developing a relationship with the child, it will hurt the relocation’s chances at being approved.

Although the relocation petition process is much better laid out than most, there remain many areas that are too complicated and circumstantial for those not well-versed in child custody law to decipher. Additionally, many relocation procedures differ from state to state, so you will want to consult an individual who knows the ins and outs of your particular location. When looking out for your child it is always recommended that you seek professional legal help. In the long run, this will save you many frustrating hours.

Child Relocation Under Florida Law

There are, of course, a few requirements that the child relocation petition must meet. Under Florida Statute §61.13001, the petition must be notarized and contain:

1. A description of the location of the intended new residence, including the state, city, and specific physical address, if known.

2. The mailing address of the intended new residence, if not the same as the physical address, if known.

3. The home telephone number of the intended new residence, if known.

4. The date of the intended move or proposed relocation.

5. A detailed statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation. If one of the reasons is based upon a job offer that has been reduced to writing, the written job offer must be attached to the petition.

6. A proposal for the revised post-relocation schedule for access and time-sharing together with a proposal for the post-relocation transportation arrangements necessary to effectuate time-sharing with the child. Absent the existence of a current, valid order abating, terminating, or restricting access or time-sharing or other good cause predating the petition, failure to comply with this provision renders the petition to relocate legally insufficient.

7. The Agreement must also contain some boilerplate language that can be found in the text of the statute.

The petition must then be served on the other parent and every other individual who is entitled access to your child.

Free Child Relocation Consultation:

If you are dealing with Child Relocation issues and want to make sure it is done in compliance with Florida law, give us a call at +1.786.309.8588.