Family law cases are constantly evolving and changing, because like as children grow and change, their needs and the needs of the parents also change. In some instances, parents find that they have to move to a different state for a new job, better opportunities, or for a new marriage. When parents have divorced or have a Parenting Plan from a paternity case, where they share a minor child, when these changes occur, it’s important that you are aware of the limitations and procedures that you need to follow in order to make sure that you are following the Court’s previous orders in your case to be successful in attempting to move.
In some cases, co-parents have good communication and can understand how a different location can be better for the family as a whole. For example, if the Mother and Father have had a Parenting Plan for their child in Jacksonville, Florida, where they share time with their child equally, and the Mother is offered a job in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she can make double when she is making now, and the area that she is moving to offers a better educational system for their child, she can file to relocate to Knoxville with the minor child. If she and the Father can come to an agreement on how they will continue to co-parent their child, and share time and responsibility, even in light of the child moving to Knoxville, then the parties may be able to come to an agreement that can be approved by the assigned Judge on their case.
Obviously, in a situation like this, when one parent has the opportunity to be able to better provide for their child, and also the new location would be better for the minor child, then it makes senses that the parties can agree and work out issues like timesharing, holidays, and child support. It is always better for parents and children when a family can work together.
But sometimes, families cannot agree. If both parents cannot work out an agreement, a procedure for relocation is set forth in Florida Statutes, Section 61.13001, which states that the relocating parent needs to file a Petition to Relocate, and serve it upon the other parent. In that Petition to Relocate, the relocating parent needs to provide the new location, proposed parenting plan, and reasons for why this move in the best interest of the relocating parent AND minor child in order to be successful. It is most important to discuss this issue with an experienced family law attorney, who can help to guide you through this technical process. There are specific terms and language that must be included in this filing to give notice of what procedures and rights the non-relocating parent has to contest and if it is not there, then the filing is not invalid. The non-relocating parent then has twenty (20) days to answer and contest the move. If the non-relocating parent does contest the relocation, then the court will set a hearing within 30 days of the filing.
It is important to also realize that with new job opportunities these procedures take time, and letting your new employer know that you will need to follow these procedures is important so that you don’t find yourself losing that new position, while waiting for the court to take action.
Parenting can be quite challenging, and relocating and moving to another area is also difficult. Having legal representation and guidance from an experienced Florida family law attorney is essential to ensuring that you have taken all the required steps but also presented your best case to relocate, or contest a relocation.