Relocating can be a tricky proposition when you are the parent of a minor child involved in a Florida time-sharing arrangement or parenting plan. While the new job or relationship several states away may seem like the chance of a lifetime, in Florida before you can accept the opportunity and move away you must petition the court to relocate. As with any complicated legal proceeding, you should feel free to consult with a qualified Florida lawyer regarding your relocation questions. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. are available to discuss the particulars of your relocation issue and offer a free initial consultation. In the meantime, here are a few things you can expect during the relocation petition process in Florida.
Petitioning the Court When You Want to Relocate
To begin, Florida law defines a relocation as a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent that is at least 50 miles in distance and for a duration of longer than 60 consecutive days. If your relocation is temporary or is less than 50 miles, you won't be required to file a petition in order to move. It is important to understand that any relocation with the child without seeking a petition to relocate may cause the court to order actions to return the child. This can also cause the court to modify your parenting plan or time-sharing agreement reducing or eliminating the amount of time you spend with your child.
Filing Your Petition to Relocate
Filing your petition to relocate begins with a request to modify a parenting plan. Similar to other modifications in child custody and support situations, you must argue that there is a substantial change in circumstances that is causing the need for modification. In this case, the substantial chance will be your need to relocate. You should note that a desire to relocate alone does not qualify as a substantial change. There must be some underlying need for the relocation.
You must file your request for modification with the court and must serve the other parent with a copy. If the other parent desires, they can file an objection. The other parent may provide a written response and, eventually, a trial may need to be scheduled in order to decide the issue.
Factors the Court Will Consider in your Petition Hearing
In Florida, there is no automatic presumption or bias for or against the request for relocation. Ultimately the court will consider what is in the best interests of the child or children when deciding whether to grant the request for relocation. When determining whether the relocation is in the best interests of the child, the court will look at many factors including:
- Whether non-relocating parent uses their allotted time under the time-sharing plan
- Whether the non-relocating spouse is involved in the child's education or extracurricular activities
- Whether the non-relocating parent is involved or responsibility for routine or daily responsibilities such as taking the child to the doctor
Florida courts are interested in preserving the relationship of the child with both parents. If the child is old and mature enough, the court may take the child's preference into consideration when deciding whether to grant the request for relocation. If the quality of life that will be obtained for the child and the career opportunities due to the move outweighs all of the other factors, the court will grant the petition to relocate.