What is the Law as to Relocation with Children After a Florida Divorce?


Life after a divorce can be very difficult both for the co-parents and for the children of the former marriage.  Part of what makes it easier is that children are still seeing both parents regularly and have the same social circles, schools, and sometimes home that they already know. But then life strikes, and the need to relocate has reared its head. Someone has to move, and that means that the children will be thrown into massive change again.  No matter how you slice it, when a parent has to move with or without the children, it is a huge change for a child. Making the decision to relocate is not one to take lightly or make out of haste.

In most cases, Florida law requires that if you are relocating that you must follow the very specific procedures set forth in Fla. Stat. 61.13001.  These relocation procedures become applicable when either parents who is entitled to timesharing with the minor children intends to move more than fifty (50) miles away.  You can obtain permission to relocate either through the agreement with the other party, or by filing a Petition with your family court.

When co-parents agree to the relocation, you still must make sure that you agreement conforms to Florida Law.  In order to comply, your agreement must be in writing, must consider transportation and related expenses, must specify a new parenting plan, and ultimately be sanctioned by the Court to be considered valid.

If your former spouse/co-parent is not in agreement, you must serve them with a Petition to Relocate.  You must provide all relevant details as to the when, where, and why of moving in the Florida Family Law case. Not only that, but you have to submit to the Court how you attend to effectuate timesharing so that it does not have an impact on your child’s time with the non-moving parent.  The co-parent has 20 days to respond, and also has specific requirements, so talking to an attorney about to address these considerations is very important to maintain your rights to object the co-parents’ relocations. If a party does not object within 20 days of being served, the Court can find that the relocation is in the child’s best interest and enter an Order Granting the Petition to Relocate. Before a Court enters such an Order, no relocation can occur. If times is essential, you can file a motion to temporarily move, but as the other parent’s timesharing is being affected, Courts are usually cautious in permitting a move pending relocation.

The Court considers different factors when determining if the relocation is in the “best interest of the child.”  The Court will hear testimony and take evidence, so having an experienced family law attorney to represent your best interest in this situation is essential to a successful resolution.   Sometimes, relocation is better for the children as the co-parent has been blessed with opportunities that are “once in a lifetime” but require a move. Sometimes, the opportunities for relocation are for the children’s health, like moving to specialized physician/hospital for a child with special needs, or the betterment of the child’s education, which the Court would consider. Ultimately, however, the Court is going to consider the opportunities versus the benefit of the child remaining with both parents actively involved in the child’s life which is a very high burden to overcome.

At Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A., the family law attorneys have been representing parties in family law and divorce cases since 1957.  You can get the book titled Florida Family Law – Enforcing Your Legal Rights & Rebuilding Your Life.  The book has a chapter on Time Sharing – Custody and Visitation and a chapter on Parenting Plans – Parenting Together You can get this book for free at Florida Family Law Book