The Effect of Relocation on Parenting Plans and Time-Sharing Arrangements

In Florida, the statutes governing family law have a preference that divorcing parents should come to an agreement about the parenting plan and the details of how the child will be raised and who will make the decisions about the child’s welfare and how the child’s time will be split. The presumption, in other words, is that it is in the best interest of the child that there are two parents helping in the raising of the child, rather than one. This trends away from the custody-visitation arrangements of yore. If you are considering a divorce and need help understanding the parenting plan and time-sharing issues, you should speak with an experienced family law attorney.

Parenting Plans in Florida

When a parenting plan has been agreed upon and the court has approved the language, the parenting plan and time-sharing arrangement will be maintained until there is a change of circumstances or the child becomes an adult. While the divorced spouses are co-parenting the child, they are living their own lives, making their own decisions, and ultimately, making individual professional and personal goals. Sometimes these professional or personal goals may require that a parent must relocate and the parenting plan must be re-evaluated.

Florida’s Definition of Relocation

Under Florida law, to relocate means that a parent is leaving the domicile within the parenting plan and moving to another location that is at least 50 miles from that domicile for more than 60 consecutive days. A child’s relocation may either be agreed to by all of the parties who are involved in the parenting and time-sharing agreements or the non-relocating parties may oppose the relocation. There is no presumption in the court’s view of whether relocation is seen as being a positive or a negative, especially when the court is deciding whether the child is permitted to be relocated.

When Relocation is Agreed to by All Parties

If the relocation is agreed to by all parties to the parenting plan and time-sharing arrangement, then a written agreement may be submitted to the court with consent from all parties, as well as a new parenting plan or time-sharing agreement which will reflect the new rights of the parties; it may establish that the child, during certain time periods, will spend time with the non-relocating parent and the type of transportation arrangements (and the expenses associated) with shuttling the child between the relocated parent’s and non-relocated parent’s residences.

When Relocation is Opposed by All Parties

If the relocation is opposed by the non-relocated parties, there must be an official opposition answer to the relocation request, which will be filed with the court. It will then be the decision of the court whether the child will be permitted to relocate or will remain with the non-relocating parent. The court may put into place a restraining order that will prohibit the relocation of the child until the matter is settled. In the event there are extenuating circumstances, the temporary order will require the child to relocate until the court rules on the relocation request.

Factors that the Court Determines When Deciding Whether to Permit Relocation

When evaluating whether to grant the relocation of the child, the court will evaluate the following factors:

  • The relationship of the child to both the relocating and non-relocating parents and the relationship of the child to the community, family, and friends that he/she may be leaving;
  • The preference of the child, depending on his/her the age and maturity;
  • The feasibility of the relocation plan, the modified parenting plan, and time-sharing arrangement, the financial changes or hardships that may be incurred as a result of the relocation;
  • The effect and impact of the relocation on the child in question, whether there are increased educational opportunities, if the relocating parent will be in a better position to provide a better life for the child; and
  • What is ultimately in the best interest of the child; among other factors.

Please contact West Palm Beach family law attorney William Wallshein for a confidential consultation regarding relocation and the factors that the court evaluates when deciding whether to grant or deny a request for relocation.