Can I Move Out of the Area with My Child after a Florida Divorce?
Moving a child out of state after your Florida divorce is not a simple thing. You must consider the ex-partner who is still an equal parent to the child. Your divorce did not change that fact.
Even if you are the custodial parent and must relocate for a job, a Florida judge will balance your right to move for employment with the ongoing opportunities of the parent left behind to continue meaningful contact with the child or children.
It is generally assumed that if both parents are healthy and have a good influence on the child, it is in the child’s best interest to continue seeing both parents with as little disruption as possible.
Crystal Collins Spencer can play an essential role as an advisor when the important co-parenting decision becomes complicated. She can be reached at her Pensacola office at (850) 795-4910.
Filing a Petition to Relocate
Relocation can be as far away as 50 miles for as little as 60 days or longer, as long as it is not a vacation. It is always preferable if the parents agree on a new parenting plan. If that is the case, they must create a new agreement that dictates the terms of the move and the custody responsibilities.
If the former couple agrees, they will have to include in the agreement:
- How to handle transportation of the child and the costs associated
- What the time-sharing schedule will look like in the future for both parents
- It will have to be signed by both parents in agreement without any undue pressure
This agreement must be filed with the court along with a request that it is ratified or approved without holding a formal hearing.
What if the Parents are not in agreement?
Things are much more complicated if the parents are in conflict over one moving out of state with the child. In this case, the one proposing the move must file a petition with the court to relocate. That will be served on the other parent, and it must include:
- The new proposed home, location, address, and phone
- The reason for the relocation and the proposed date
- Any job offer in writing that necessitates the move
- A proposed visitation schedule in the future
- A plan on how transportation will be carried out and the costs associated
Your Florida family law attorney can help you prepare the response, especially if you have reasons to object to the move and can clearly state how it will impact the child’s life. The parent who is not moving has 20 days to respond. With no response, the court can decide.
If one parent chooses to relocate with the child without obtaining a written plan, they can be found in contempt of court. That may mean attorneys’ fees, sanctions, or an order to return the child.
The court’s goal is to protect the custodial rights of both parents regardless of any external circumstance.
Moving With a Child
It can become a complex decision to move a child with a parent seeking employment in a new location following a Florida divorce.
While traditionally, it was assumed the mother should retain children during their ‘tender years”, Florida courts have set that assumption aside in favor of both parents having frequent and continuing contact with the child following a divorce.
The court will consider a host of factors putting the child first and their need for both responsible parents to be part of their life, for example:
- The age of the child and their current needs
- The relationship the child has with each parent
- The ability to maintain that relationship with distance
- What the child prefers
- Whether the move will improve the life of the child
- Financial considerations impacting the child, moving versus staying
- Is there good faith between the parents?
- Is there a history of drug or alcohol use or abuse?
- Is there any undue influence on the party who plans on moving?
In this scenario, a hearing will be scheduled within 30 days or a trial within 90 days.
Your Florida Family Law Attorney
Preparing for your future following a Florida divorce is a high priority for attorney Crystal Collins Spencer. She has decades of experience helping parents create a workable plan and maintaining the rights and responsibilities of each parent.
Call the Spencer Law Group today at our Pensacola, Florida office (850) 795-4910 to set up a personalized consultation to discuss your case.