The Difficult Issue of Relocation
Anyone involved in family law, whether it be an attorney, mediator or even a judge, will agree that relocation cases are often the most difficult and challenging. Let me first explain the concept of RELOCATION. A relocation occurs when one parent is seeking permission to relocate with a minor child more than 50 miles from their home. This generally occurs post-judgment, meaning after the parties have already been divorced; although it could be an element that is addressed during the dissolution itself. It is not the parent’s relocation that becomes an issue, but rather the minor child’s. Several years ago, the Florida Legislature passed a relocation statute, which dictates how these matters must proceed. A parent who was or is married to the other parent (paternity cases are not always the same), must receive either written permission from the other parent or a court order allowing the relocation to occur. Assuming there is no agreement between the parents, Florida Statutes require the “relocating parent” to file a Petition to Relocate. If a time-sharing schedule has already been established by the court, a request to modify the time-sharing schedule must also be included. The Petition must be served upon the other parent, who will have twenty days to respond. The petition must include the following language:
A RESPONSE TO THE SUPPLEMENTAL PETITION OBJECTING TO RELOCATION MUST BE MADE IN WRITING, FILED WITH THE COURT, AND SERVED ON THE PARENT OR OTHER PERSON SEEKING TO RELOCATE WITHIN 20 DAYS AFTER SERVICE OF THIS SUPPLEMENTAL PETITION TO RELOCATE. IF YOU FAIL TO TIMELY OBJECT TO THE RELOCATION, THE RELOCATION WILL BE ALLOWED, UNLESS IT IS NOT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD, WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE AND WITHOUT A HEARING.
The Petition must include the following:
1. A description of the location of the intended new residence, including the state, city and specific address if known
2. The home telephone number of the intended new residence
3. The date of the intended move
4. A detailed statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation. If it is based upon a job offer that has been reduced to writing, it must be attached.
5. A proposal for the modified time-sharing schedule.
In deciding whether to grant the relocation, the Court must consider
A. The relationship between the minor child and the nonrelocating parent
B. The age and developmental stage of the child and the likely impact relocation will have on that child.
C. The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the child and the nonrelocating parent.
D. The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.
E. Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the child and the parent seeking relocation.
F. The reasons the nonrelocating parent is in fact objecting.
G. The current economic and employment circumstances of each parent.
H.Whether the relocation is being sought in good faith
I. ANY OTHER FACTOR AFFECTING THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD.
As you can see, this is a complicated issue. It would be best for both parties to seek legal counsel before considering such a move.