Can Floridians relocate with their children after divorce?

In order to move more than 50 miles with their children after a divorce, Florida parents must obtain permission from their former partners or the court.

Sometimes, people in Palm Beach County, and other localities, may want to move following a divorce. They may want to be closer to family or friends, pursue employment opportunities or simply obtain a fresh start in a new place. For parents, however, there is more to moving than just packing up the boxes, loading the truck and hitting the road. Those with kids must generally obtain permission in order to relocate with their children once a custody order is in place.

Reaching an agreement out of court

Perhaps the easiest way for people to get permission to relocate is to reach an agreement out of court with their child's other parent and anyone else who has time-sharing with a child. Florida state law specifies that in these cases, the interested parties may sign a written agreement consenting to the move. In addition, these agreements should define the adjusted time-sharing schedule and describe the transportation arrangements.

Once a relocation agreement is drawn up and signed, it should be remitted to the court for ratification. Unless one of the parents or others involved request a hearing, the court will typically presume that the relocation is in the child's best interests. Therefore, the agreement may be approved without a court hearing.

Petitioning the court to relocate

When parents cannot reach an agreement on their own, people may need to petition the court to relocate. According to the Florida Supreme Court, this is the case if they are planning to move more than 50 miles from where they resided at the time of the last custody order. Moving with a child does not require permission in cases when people are relocating for less than 60 days or for purposes, including vacation, education or health care for the child. Should either parent formally object to the relocation, then a hearing will be held in order to determine if the move is in the child's best interests.

In order to decide if a relocation is what is best for a child, the court will take a number of factors into account. Florida state law specifies that these factors include the following:

  • The parent-child relationships
  • The age, developmental stage and needs of the child
  • The child's preference
  • Whether the move will enhance the child and the parent's lives
  • The current and future economic and employment opportunities of each parent
  • The ability to preserve the relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent

Additionally, the court may also take into account the reasons why the parents are seeking and opposing the relocation.

Consulting with an attorney

Even when Florida parents agree to a relocation, the process of obtaining permission from the court may be complicated. Therefore, it may benefit those who are planning to move with their children after a divorce to seek legal counsel. An attorney may help them understand what they must do in order to get permission, and guide them through the legal process.

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