If a parent wishes to relocate with a minor child after a Court Order that specifies a parenting plan and timesharing schedule has been entered, and the move is fifty (50) or more miles from his or her prior residence, a Court Order approving the relocation must be obtained prior to the date of the intended relocation. Florida Statute Section 61.13001 specifically delineates the procedures that must be followed by both, the parent seeking to relocate and the parent opposing the relocation. A party’s failure to comply with the procedural requirements delineated in Fla. Stat. 61.13001 may result in serious legal ramifications including, but not limited to the denial of the request for relocation.
Generally, if both parties agree to the relocation, they can enter into an agreement consenting to the relocation and establishing a new parenting plan and timesharing schedule. Once the agreement is approved by the family judge, the relocating parent will be authorized to relocate with the minor child. It is important to note however, that such agreements must include specific and detailed information as to how the parents will handle the transportation and the payment of the travel expenses for the child to exercise timesharing with the non-relocating parent, the amount of child support to be paid by the appropriate parent once the timesharing schedule is modified, and all other relevant procedures for the parents to effectively co-parent long distance.
If the non-relocating parent or any other person who has timesharing with a minor child objects to the relocation, the relocating parent must petition the court for appropriate relief prior to the date of the intended relocation. In some circumstances, the family judge may grant a temporary relocation on an emergency basis if the need for relocation is eminent and the parent seeking to relocate meets his or her burden. Both at the temporary relocation hearing and the final hearing, the parent seeking to relocate must present the court with evidence sufficient to justify why the intended move is in the best interests of the minor child. To make this determination, the family judge is required to evaluate each of the factors set forth in Florida Statute 61.13001. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the parent seeking to relocate or the parent opposing the relocation to present the required evidence at the hearing for the judge to make the appropriate findings. Failure to present evidence as to each of the required factors may prove fatal to either parent’s position in a relocation case.
Relocation cases are difficult for family judges to decide. They often involve two loving parents that do not wish to be separated from their child. Judges presiding over a relocation case must balance the relocating parent’s right to move for legitimate reasons with the non-relocating parent’s right to have meaningful contact with the child. The ultimate decision must be based on the best interests of the minor child. However, it is up to the parents to present a compelling case to the family judge. Relocation cases are also complex because of the numerous statutory technicalities and mandatory deadlines that are imposed upon the petitioning relocating parent and the parent opposing the relocation. Failure to comply with the statutory mandates may potentially result in a court order compelling the child’s return, a finding of contempt, and other significant financial costs and sanctions.
ABN Law Group – Your Relocation Attorneys in Miami-Dade and Broward
If you are a parent considering a relocation or wish to prevent the relocation of your child, it is crucial that you seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney. Our attorneys at ABN Law Group can help you. Call us to set up a strategy conference so that we can help you present a compelling case to your family judge.