Relocation in Florida
Many people are surprised to learn that Florida has a specific statute dealing with the relocation of minor children. In general, the statute requires any parent who has timesharing with a child to file a Petition for Relocation if they intend to move more than fifty miles from their current residence. Typically, this will apply to the parent who has majority timesharing with the children, but recent court opinions in Florida have indicated that it is also very likely necessary to file for Relocation even if the relocating parent is NOT the majority time-sharing parent.
A Petition for Relocation must be very fact-specific. First, it must list the proposed new address, telephone number, and other contact information. It must also list the reasons for the proposed relocation, and why those reasons are in the best interests of the child (or children). If the relocation is a result of a job offer, that job offer must be attached to the Petition itself.
When the Petition is served on the non-relocating parent, they have twenty days to file an objection if they wish. If no objection is filed, the Judge can presume the relocation is in the best interests of the children, and can automatically grant the Petition. Therefore, if you do get served with a Petition for Relocation, and you have an objection, you must make sure you file that objection in time. Once a parent files an objection, the next step will be scheduling either a temporary or final hearing on the matter.
At the end of the day, a Judge must make a finding that the relocation is in the best interests of the child if that Judge is going to approve the relocation. Typically, the most compelling arguments for relocation are when a parent gets a job offer that would increase the standard of living for the child. Reasons for relocation can also include military orders to another station, as well as the need to help with/live with extended family in another state.
If you wish to relocate with your child (or have an objection to another party doing so), it is important that you consult with a Florida family law attorney to make sure you and your child’s rights are protected.