Understanding Relocation in Florida’s Divorce Courts
The average American, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, will hold about 12 jobs in a lifetime. This is markedly more jobs than most people would have had just 30 or 40 years ago. Changing workforce requirements, educational opportunities, women working outside the home, and changing corporation structures all play a big role in this. However, one thing is definitely certain, if you have a custody order in place and are offered a phenomenal job opportunity that would require relocation, you are in a catch-22. Florida law does not make it easy to simply pick up and move if you share parenting time with another parent of your small children.
The Florida Relocation Statute
Under Fla. Stat. 61.13001, the method by which a parent may seek to relocate with a child is laid out in detail. If you have a wonderful opportunity – whether for higher education, career advancement, or due to a new relationship – you should absolutely consider bettering yourself. If you are single and have no kids, then the choice is simple. Even if you do have kids, if the other parent is not in the picture and has no custody or visitation rights, then the choice is usually up to you.
However, in situations in which your children’s other parent is in the picture and has parenting time, a Florida court will not just allow you to strip the children away from that person without a showing of how it will affect the kids. Here are just a few considerations.
- It is all about the kids. First and foremost, courts do not really care about your future, your advancement, your new boyfriend or girlfriend, and they also do not care that much about how your ex feels. What they do care about is the kids. So, each and every question starts by asking “how does this affect the kids?”
- Just because it is good for you does not mean the kids win. Just because you will be making more money, does not necessarily mean the children will thrive in their new environment. Likewise, just because you think your ex is a terrible person does not mean the children will be unharmed by losing significant time with that individual.
What Must be Considered Before You can Relocate?
Want to take that big new job or live with your new spouse who lives six hours away? Well, be prepared to do the following:
Attempt to get consent. If your children’s other parent will agree, that is best. You may need to make some concessions, but you should always try this first.
Petition the court. If you petition the court, you will need to file your petition, explaining the following:
- Where you are moving
- Why you are moving
- The city, state, and address where you are going
- Your new number, if it is changing
- The exact date you intend to move
- Detailed explanation of why you are relocating, including documentation
- Your proposal of how you will facilitate the ongoing parenting relationship of the other parent
- Details on how you will facilitate transportation and the logistics of shared parenting time
Planning is Key
At the Sejour-Gustave Law Firm, PLLC, our team works hard to ensure our clients stay well informed. We look for creative ways to fix problems and solve disputes, rather than creating new ones. If you are in need of help getting a parent to agree to relocation or may need to seek court approval to take a new job in a different part of the country, then give us a call right away. Let us get started on framing your case in a way that is likely to win. But the sooner you start, the better your odds of avoiding big mistakes down the road.