Relocation of Children

June 24, 2015

In Florida, if the parents of a minor child are separated and the custodial parent wants to move the minor child more than fifty miles for a period of over sixty days, the custodial parent must get the other parent’s permission. If the other parent will not give consent to the move, then the custodial parent must petition the court for permission to move.

When Both Parents Agree

If the other parent agrees to the relocation, the parents must sign a written agreement before the move. Anyone else with visitation rights, such as grandparents, must also agree. The agreement must include:

  • An indication of both parents’ consent
  • A new time-sharing schedule for the noncustodial parent and anyone else with visitation rights
  • Any transportation arrangements that are related to timesharing

The court then must ratify the agreement before the parent can move with the child.

When Parents Disagree

If the other parent does not agree to the move, the custodial parent must file a signed petition with the court, asking it to approve the relocation. The relocating parent must also give notice of the petition to the other parent. The petition must include:

  • The physical location, mailing address, and telephone number of the proposed new residence
  • The date of the intended move
  • A detailed description of the reasons for the move
  • Proposed revisions for the time-sharing schedule and for any transportation arrangements needed to carry out the new time-sharing schedule
  • Notice to the other parent telling him or her how to object to the petition and the consequences of not objecting

If the noncustodial parent fails to respond to the petition, the court will presume that the move is in the child’s best interest, unless there is good cause for it to find otherwise, and will approve the relocation. If the other parent does respond to the petition, the court will hold a hearing to determine the child’s best interests.

Hearing

At the hearing, the court will decide whether the move is in the child’s best interest. The parent wanting to relocate must show the court that moving would be for the child’s good. In determining the child’s best interest, courts consider factors including:

  • The child’s relationship with both parents, siblings, half-siblings, other family members, and other important people in the child’s life
  • The impact that the relocation is likely to have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into account the child’s age and any special needs
  • Whether the child’s relationship with the non-relocating parent can be preserved through alternate visitation arrangements
  • The child’s preference
  • Whether the move will increase the quality of life for both the parent and the child
  • The reasons for seeking and opposing the relocation
  • Whether the move will improve the economic circumstances of the relocating parent
  • Whether the move is proposed in good faith and whether the objecting parent has met his or her parental obligations
  • The career opportunities available to the objecting parent if the relocation occurs
  • Any history of domestic violence

If you are considering moving with your minor child, or if your child’s other parent is trying to move your child away from you, the advice of an experienced attorney is essential. Please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a free initial consultation.