A Child Relocation case was recently decided by the Florida Court of Appeal in a case captioned Castleman v. Bicaldo. In this case, the mother emigrated from the Philippines to the United States in order to marry the Father. As a result of the marriage, she was able to obtain a Green Card. After 26 months of marriage, the Father filed for divorce. The trial judge issued a Final Judgment in which the Court ruled that if Wife's citizenship application was denied, she would be allowed to move to the Philippines with her child. The trial court found that the relocation statute did not apply to persons who are deported. The Court of Appeals reversed this judgment.
In a recently decided child relocation case, the parties had two minor children. The Wife wanted to relocate to Virginia with the children. The Husband opposed the relocation. The parties lived in Virginia for many years prior to moving to Florida. After the parties lived in Florida for two years, the wife filed a petition for divorce. The wife requested that the trial court permit her to relocate with the children because she believed that the relocation would be in the children's best interest. Additionally, she argued that the relocation would eliminate her need to constantly travel for work.
In Florida, child relocation is defined as a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent from his or her principal place of residence at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing or at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence. In Dickson v. Dickson, the Court of Appeal recently decided a case where the parties were married in 2003. At the time of their divorce, they had one minor child. The final judgment in 2011 provided that the child would primarily live with the mother in Lake County, but would stay with the father Wednesday nights and alternating weekends. The judgment did not prohibit relocation, however, it gave the parties shared parental responsibility. In 2014, the mother decided to move from Lake County.
In a child relocation case, the parent with substantial time-sharing and the parent who does not have substantial time-sharing are both required to seek court permission before relocating. In Brooks v. Brooks the trial court ordered the Father to file a petition to relocate pursuant to section 61.13001 when he moved from Sarasota to Hallandale Beach. The Florida Court of Appeal affirmed this decision. The Florida Court of Appeal reasoned that when Chapter 61 was rewritten in 2008, the legislature moved away from terms such as "primary residential parent" and "nonresidential parent." Instead, the legislature adopted terminology such as "time-sharing". Section 61.13001(3) requires a parent seeking relocation to file a petition to relocate. Relocation is defined by section 61.13001(1)(e) as 'a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent...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." Since this definition excludes any reference to the relocating parent being the primary residential parent, the lower court ordered the Father to file a relocation petition before moving.
The child relocation statute does not apply when the parent has relocated prior to the date of the filing of the dissolution petition. In Rolison v. Rolison the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: "Appellant (the Father) appeals a non-final order denying his emergency verified motion to compel Appellee (the Mother) to return the parties' minor children to Florida. We affirm the trial court's order, which correctly found that section 61.13001, Florida Statutes (2013), Florida's relocation statute, did not apply, as the Mother moved to Georgia before the Father filed for dissolution. The Father filed a petition for dissolution of marriage and other relief on February 21, 2014. The trial court denied the Father's emergency motion, finding that section 61.13001 was inapplicable, because it only applied to a child's relocation or proposed relocation during a pending proceeding.
In a child relocation proceeding, when a parent violates a pretrial order addressing the removal of the child from the jurisdiction of the court, it is well within the discretion of the trial court to award sole responsibility to the parent who is properly before the court and compliant with the orders of that court. "Claudia Herrera-Frias appeals the judgment of dissolution of her marriage to Jesus Frias...She also challenges the trial court's decision to award her husband sole parental responsibility for the three children of the marriage while giving her limited contact with the children...
In a child relocation proceeding, when the parties' settlement agreement expressly prohibits a move, the party who seeks to relocate must show a substantial change in circumstances to justify the relocation. In Moore v. McIntosh the Florida Court of Appeal recently stated: "The trial court erred as a matter of law by modifying the parties' custody arrangement after finding that the parties' relocation to different cities in Okaloosa County, which resulted in each of them living twenty miles from their child's school in Okaloosa County, constituted a substantial change of circumstances.
In a child relocation proceeding, the court may only order temporary relocation where the relocating parent files and serves a petition. In Milton v. Milton, the Florida Court of Appeal stated that: "This Court reviews relocation determinations for abuse of discretion; however, the question of whether the trial court properly applied the relocation statute is a matter of law, reviewed de novo. Raulerson v. Wright, 60 So. 3d 487, 489 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011). Here, Mr. Milton relies on section 61.13001, Florida Statutes, and Raulerson, to assert that because Mrs. Milton did not comply with section 61.13001, the trial court erred in permitting the child's relocation, even if temporary.
Relocation is a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent from his principal place of residence at the time of the last order related to time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing "Prior to October 1, 2009, 'relocation' was defined in terms of a change of the primary residence of the child. Beginning October 1, 2009, 'relocation' is defined as: '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... Based on section 61.13001 (1)(e) and A. F., the mother is correct in arguing that if she had already moved to Louisiana prior to the father's filing of the petition to determine paternity or any order establishing or modifying time-sharing, then she is not subject to the relocation statute." Essex v. Davis.
Relocation - Measurement of Distance in Florida
Distance should be measured along the shortest straight line, on a horizontal plane and not along the course of a highway or along the usual traveled way. "We believe that utilizing a method of measurement other than the straight line method would create uncertainty and generate needless debate. See Trumbull Falls, LLC v. Planning & Zoning Comm'n of Town of Trumbull, 902 A.2d 706, 712 (Conn. App. Ct. 2006). In the absence of any statutory or contractual provision governing the manner of measurement of distances, the general rule is that distance should be measured along the shortest straight line, on a horizontal plane and not along the course of a highway or along the usual traveled way. 79 Am. Jur. 2d Weights and Measures § 46 (2012). Florida has adopted this general rule." Tucker v. Liebknecht