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Relocation With a Minor Child

Relocation occurs when one of the parents after a divorce or parenting plan with time sharing is entered decides that he or she wants to relocate with the minor child to a different city, state or country away from the other parent. There may be several reasons for this move, including a new spouse, job offer, or to be closer to other relatives in the same area. If parents share custody or time sharing with the children, the legal issue of whether the parent can move with the child and therefore modify or change the parenting plan becomes a serious matter that requires the assistance of an experienced Florida family law attorney.

Sometimes a parenting agreement or child custody order will address the issue of relocation; however, if these matters are not addressed in a parenting time sharing plan or custody order, then the parents need to be aware that there are specific laws and statutes that govern this occurrence and that if they move without complying with the law, there may be serious consequences.

Parents may seek a new time sharing schedule and parenting plan through a private relocation agreement, but in order for it be valid, the agreement must include specific information, and must be approved by court order. Any failure to comply with Florida law in this regard may result in serious legal ramifications for the relocating parent, so it is recommended that any parent seeking a relocation agreement obtain the advice of an experienced Florida family law attorney.

In the event that an ex-spouse or other person who has custody, time sharing or visitation rights with the minor child is not willing to agree to a proposed relocation or relocation plan, it becomes necessary to petition the Florida family law court in the relevant jurisdiction to approve the relocation. These legal proceedings can be complicated. Therefore, it is recommended that the parent wishing to relocate, or the parent objecting to the relocation hire an experienced Florida family law attorney to represent their interests.

The parent who wishes to relocate with a minor child must file a Notice of Intent to Relocate that conforms to the Florida Statute very specifically, and that Notice must be sent to the other parent or party who has any time sharing, or custodial and visitation rights.  The relocating parent must present in writing the reasons why the court should approve any relocation petition and an alternative time sharing plan and explain why it is in the child’s best interests to allow the parent to move with the child.

Once the appropriate legal papers are filed correctly and all procedural requirements have been met, any parent or party objecting to the relocation is required to respond in writing. If no written objection be filed within a specified time frame, the court can approve a plan that complies with all legal requirements.

If a parent trying to relocate fails to comply with the law, this can have dire consequences to that parent. They may be subject to contempt orders, and be compelled to return the child and be ordered to pay the legal fees and expenses of the other parent who sought the child’s return. 

A parent or other party with visitation rights to the child must object to a relocation petition in writing within a fixed period of time and the objection must state the reasons for objecting to the relocation. If the party seeking relocation has failed to comply with the law, the objecting party may be able to obtain a temporary restraining order preventing the relocating parent from moving the child or children.

An objection must state why the relocation would not be in the best interests of the child or children because this is the court’s primary concern in all cases. Some of the factors that the Court must consider under the law include:

  • The nature of the relationships that will be disturbed by relocation—not only as to the non-relocating parent, but for grandparents, siblings, extended family, and other significant persons in the child’s/children’s life/lives;
  • The age and needs of the child or children, and how the move may impact the child/children;
  • The preferences of the child or children;
  • The feasibility of maintaining a strong relationship between the child/children and the non-relocating parties if the relocation plan is approved;
  • Whether the quality of life will be improved for the child or children, including financial, emotional, or educational benefits or opportunities for the relocating parent and for the child/children;
  • The current employment circumstances and economic circumstances of the parents, and how relocation will alter those circumstances for better or worse.

Attorney Astrid M. Bismarck can assist either a parent wishing to Relocate or a parent objecting to a Relocation.

Relocation cases are highly emotional and complicated and it is advisable to hire an experienced Florida family law attorney to assist either the relocating parent or non-relocating parent in these difficult situations.

The Law Offices of Astrid M. Bismarck is located in Coral Gables, Florida, and we also assist clients throughout Miami-Dade, Broward, and Monroe counties in dealing with relocation in Florida family courts. If you need help with a relocation issue, contact Astrid M. Bismarck, Esquire, using the online form on this site, or by calling her directly at 305-444-5554.