Written By: Lenorae Atter, Attorney
Moving for a job, family or any other reason can be more challenging if you have minor children in Florida. As a Jacksonville divorce lawyer, clients often ask me whether they need to notify the other parent if they intend on moving out of town and/or out of state. The answer is, “yes.” When there are minor children, Florida does have a notification requirement for the parents to follow in relocating since it will impact the time-sharing plan ordered with the court. So, what do you have to do if you are moving with minor children?
First, in accordance with Florida Statute 61.13001, the move must be outside of a 50 mile radius to qualify under the statute. Therefore, simply moving down the street or within the same city will not give rise to this requirement.
If the move is outside of the designated mileage, then you may reach an agreement with the other parent about your plans to move. Once you let the other parent know of your intentions, then you may discuss what you would like to do for time-sharing. If you and the other parent can reach an agreement regarding the changes, then you may file a consent agreement to the relocation with the court. The agreement should put detailed information about the fact that you are moving, why and to where (including an address). That the parties believe that it is in the best interest of the child(ren) to relocate and that the parents have reach an agreement regarding the time-sharing changes, if any. Then, the agreement should address what all of the changes to the time-sharing plan will be and how transportation costs will be divided and handled by the parents. If the parent without majority time-sharing is relocating, then it is still a good idea to file this agreement so the modification is filed with the court.
What if the other parent does not agree to the move? Then the parent intending to relocate must file a Petition for Relocation with the Minor Children. The petition should state where the parent intends to go, why the parent believes the move to be in the best interest of the children and whether time-sharing should be modified to accommodate the change. It should also state the request being made for transportation costs.
Once the petition is filed, the other parent has 20 days to file an action with the court to object to the relocation. If there is an objection, then the court will hold a hearing regarding the move and determine what is actually in the best interest of the child. If the court feels that the move is to only relocate the child away from one parent, then the court may find that there are not sufficient reasons to grant the request. However, if the court finds that the move is not to interfere with time-sharing, but to simply accommodate an employment and/or family need, then it may find that the move is in the best interest of the child and determine what the new time-sharing plan will be.
The idea behind the statute is to allow both parents an opportunity to maintain a relationship with the child. Also, it is designed to make certain that both parents have a say in where the child will live. While shared parental responsibility is often granted, meaning that both parents are supposed to make the decisions for the child, one parent sometimes decides to act out without first discussing plans with the other. This can cause additional problems down the road because if a parent leaves without following the steps above, she/he may be required to return to the city and/or state.
If you are thinking of moving with your minor child, then you should speak with an experienced family law attorney to better understand your rights, options and obligations.