They’re my children, can’t I just move with them?
Well…maybe. Florida statutes §61.13001 describes what a parent must do to relocate from their current residence with their child (assuming, of course, one parent is relocating and the other parent is staying in the same city/town/county).
The statute defines relocation as: “a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.”
Of course, the parties can agree on a new-time sharing schedule if one parent is relocating. If the parties come to an agreement, it should be in writing. The statute provides: “the parties shall seek ratification of the agreement by court order without the necessity of an evidentiary hearing.”
If the parties don’t agree, “a parent or other person seeking relocation must file a petition to relocate and serve it upon the other parent, and every other person entitled to access to or time-sharing with the child.” This begins the full blown battle over where the children should reside. The Court then considers whether the relocation is in the children’s best interest.
Noteworthy, the statute contains the following provision: “Relocating the child without complying with the requirements of this subsection subjects the party in violation to contempt and other proceedings to compel the return of the child and may be taken into account by the court in any initial or post-judgment action seeking a determination or modification of the parenting plan or the access or time-sharing schedule.”
I have seen relocation cases where one parent obtains a new job or transfer, and the other parent, though divorced, moves to the new location with the first parent and children. I have also seen relocation cases where one parent decides to move with the children, and never complies with the provisions of this statute. In any case, it is important to consult with a lawyer regarding your obligations under this statute and work toward a resolution that is best for your children and family.