For many parents, reaching a custody agreement and parenting plan that all parties are happy with can be a challenge. Once a custody order is issued, it’s common to feel a sense of relief knowing that these important details are finally settled.
But, sometimes custody orders have to be modified later on because of a change in one of the parent’s circumstances. One such instance is when a custodial parent wants to move with the child away from the non-custodial parent.
Under Florida’s relocation statute, a parental relocation occurs when custodial parent and child move at least 50 miles from their home for a minimum of 60 consecutive days. The only exceptions to this rule are if the relocation was for vacation, education, or health care services.
Custody orders are binding legal documents. Once ordered, this means that the court’s decision for sharing custody must be followed. For child relocation to be legal, the move away parent must file a petition with the court and allow the other parent the ability to object to the proposed move. Failure to do so can have serious consequences, including being held in contempt.
At the law firm of McMichen, Cinami & Demps, we understand that life circumstances can change for parents after a custody order. That’s why our skilled Orlando family law attorneys are dedicated to helping Florida parents reach a custody agreement that works for them and is in the best interest of the child.
How To File A Petition To Relocate Your Child
When a parent requests for permission to relocate their child, they must file a petition with the court. The petition then has to be served to the other parent as well as any other person who is entitled to time-sharing with the child.
In addition to specific language, the petition must also include:
The location of the new home, mailing address, and phone number
The date of the relocation
The reason why you want to move
Time-sharing details about how the non-custodial parent and others will have access to the child after your move
It’s important to note that if the move away request is because of a job offer, the moving parent must submit a written job offer to the court along with the petition. Also, if the custodial parent fails to explain how the other parent’s rights to custody and visitation will be honored after the move, the petition will be rejected.
When Both Parents Agree To The Move
Even if both parents agree to the move, they still need to go through the court system before the relocation. This is done by creating a signed written agreement that shows both parents consent to the move. To be valid, the agreement has to include a time-sharing schedule (including details about transportation) for the non-relocating parent and other relevant individuals.
Once filed, the parties have 10 days to file a request for a hearing. If a hearing is not requested, the court will approve the agreement.
When One Parent Disagrees With Relocation
If the non-custodial parent doesn’t agree to the relocation, they must file a response objecting to the petition for relocation. The objection should include the reasons the parent objects to the move. They must also include details on their current level of involvement in the child’s life and how the move will be detrimental to the child.
Once the objection is filed, the court may grant a temporary order that prevents the custodial parent from moving the child. In cases where the parent moved without getting the court’s consent, a temporary order can demand the return of the child.
How The Court Decides Whether To Allow A Relocation
When deciding whether or not to allow the move, the court evaluates certain factors to reach a decision that is in the best interest of the child, while preserving each parties parental rights.
Some of the factors the court considers in move away cases include:
A comparison between the child’s relationship with the moving parent and the non-moving parent
The age and developmental stage of the child
The needs of the child
The effect the move will have on the child’s development
The child’s preference
The reason for the move
Any other factor that affects the best interest of the child
If the court believes that the move is best for the child, it will modify the existing custody order to reflect the circumstances of the relocation.
Penalties For Relocating A Child Without A Court Order
Some parents make the mistake of moving their child without the consent of the other parent or the court. Under Florida law, the moving party can face severe consequences for doing so, including being held in contempt. They can also be forced to pay the other parent’s attorney fees and other costs related to bringing the child back.
The court will also use the unauthorized move as a factor in future determinations about the child, including custody and visitation disputes.
Post-Relocation Tips For Families
Parents should keep in mind that their child can experience some negative effects after relocating. These include lower grades and difficulty making new friends. If relocation is agreed upon or ordered, there are simple tips you can keep in mind to ease the transition and make relocation successful for your child:
Create a parenting plan that maximizes each parent’s time
Use technology like Skype and social media to keep connected with the non-custodial parent, friends, and relatives
Consider giving your child longer vacations with the non-custodial parent
Ensure that your child gets the academic support they need
Encourage your child to become involved in extracurricular activities
Consider joining a parenting group in your new location
Let your child know that you are there to talk if they have trouble adjusting to their new home or school
If needed, consult a therapist or other professional to address your child’s issues post-relocation
Above all else, a successful relocation requires both parents to remain child-focused. This means keeping the child’s best interests in mind and keeping the lines of communication between the parents open.
Protect Your Parental Rights With McMichen, Cinami & Demps
At McMichen, Cinami & Demps, we understand that changes in one parent’s life can make sharing child custody a challenge. Whether you are a parent who wishes to relocate or a parent who wants to enforce an existing custody order, our Orlando relocation attorneys are here to help. We’ll do everything we can to help secure the result that’s best for you and your family.
We offer proficient and passionate representation for relocation cases throughout central Florida. Don’t hesitate to contact our qualified Florida relocation lawyers today to schedule your free consultation.