At the Family Law Advocates, P.A., we know that the time you spend with your children may be the most important issue to you in your divorce or child custody case. When the issue of relocation of a child is raised, the immediate concern is likely to be how can regular time-sharing (visitation) occur, given the geographical distance. Our team of family law professionals has years of experience representing parents on either side of a relocation case. Under Florida law, Chapter 16.13001, a relocation can be requested not only after a parenting plan has already been entered, but actually during the initial part of your divorce or paternity case. The initial step will be the filing and service of a petition for relocation.
We are able to advise you of your rights in all child relocation matters. Typically, if one parent objects to the requested relocation, the case will ultimately be resolved via a hearing in front of a judge. Statute sets forth a range of factors the court is required to look at when hearing a relocation case and relocating without permission from the court or the other parent can be fatal to your relocation request.What You Can Expect in a Florida Relocation Case
Florida statute defines a relocation as a change in the location of the primary residence of a parent, of 50 miles or more from their residence at the time of the last court order or the filing of the case, for at least 60 days.
When a parent seeks to relocate, their first step should be seeing if the other parent agrees. If so, statute requires submission of a written agreement acknowledging consent to the move, setting forth a new time-sharing schedule, and indicating how transportation for time-sharing will occur. However, if the parents don’t agree to a relocation, the parent wishing to move will need to file a petition for relocation with a child. That petition will be served upon the other parent, who will have 20 days to file a response. Both the petition and response will need to be particular as to reasons for the move, time-sharing proposals and transportation, and why an objection to the relocation is being made. A person seeking to move can also request a temporary order authorizing relocation, on a temporary basis, until the final hearing can be held. Likewise, the objecting party can request a temporary order prohibiting the relocation and requiring return of the child. Statute requires a hearing regarding temporary relocation to be held within 30 days. A final hearing should occur within 90 days of a request being filed.
Florida statute states that there is no presumption in favor of, or against, relocation. During the hearing, a judge will look at the following circumstances to determine what is in the child’s best interest:
- Why one parent wishes to relocate with the child or children
- Why the other parent objects to the relocation request
- The nature and quality of each parent’s relationship with the child(ren) since the previous custody orders were issued
- The age, developmental, and educational needs of the child(ren)
- The viability of preserving the relationship with the non-relocating parent
- The presence of extended family at either location, and the relationship between the child(ren) and any extended family at either location and the likelihood of compliance with any visitation-schedule by the relocating parent
- The child(ren)’s preferences, if mature enough to express one
- The employment and financial circumstances of each parent related to the relocation
- The history of support payments and compliance with financial orders by the objecting parent
- Substance use and domestic violence issues, if any
- Any other best interest factors
If the court ultimately approves the relocation, a new time-sharing schedule will be entered, with specifics related to all aspects, including transportation. The court can also order other modes of communication between the child and the non-relocating parent, including telephonic or video contact.
Relocations can be difficult for each parent, given so much is at stake and that so much may rest in the hands of the judge. As with other time-sharing or child custody matters, parents can seek the appointment of a social investigator or G.A.L. to investigate and report regarding the relocation and the child’s best interests.
Our attorneys can help you navigate these treacherous legal waters and will be there to provide you with the sound advice and exceptional legal representation you deserve. How you choose to proceed is up to you. Regardless of your decision regarding relocation, we will be there to support you and fight to obtain your objectives.Tampa Bay Child Relocation Attorneys
When Your Time-Sharing Rights Are on the Line, You Need the Family Law Advocates
Your children mean the world to you, and there is no aspect of a family law case more important than your visitation rights. If you live in Tampa/St. Petersburg our highly experienced and aggressive family law team can help you with your child relocation matter.
Give us a call today to schedule your initial consultation. We’re here for you when you need us!