Divorce changes the lives of the divorcing couple and any children they have. Suddenly there are two households to support, not just one. Kids have two homes instead of having their parents under one roof. A parent who had stayed at home with the kids may need to find a job. A parent who had been content living far away from family during the marriage might, after divorce, long for the comfort of having family nearby. One parent might want, or need, to move hundreds of miles away for a job or family matter. Obviously, this will have a big effect on time-sharing (custody). Can you move out of state with your child after a divorce case in Florida?
The short answer is yes, but you must have court permission in order to do so. That court permission is not always easy to obtain. Let's talk about what is necessary to get a court order that allows you to move out of state with your child.
Florida's Relocation Statute
You may have heard the expression, “It's easier to get forgiveness than permission.” Get that expression out of your head if you are considering relocating with your child. If your child's other parent is not inclined toward forgiveness, the court certainly will not be, and you could find yourself in a heap of trouble.
There are two ways you can get the permission you need to move with your child. But first, let's talk about when that permission is actually needed, per Florida Statute Section 61.13001. You only need permission to move if you are going more than 50 miles from the place you were residing at the time your existing time-sharing order took effect. Furthermore, the move must be for more than 60 consecutive days.
So, let's say you live in Miami, and you want to move to Fort Lauderdale. That's a little over 30 miles; you should be fine. Or what if you want to spend six weeks in the summer with your mom in Atlanta? You don't need to consult your ex, or the court (although you do still have to abide by your time-sharing arrangement).
The statute is designed with some flexibility in mind; for instance, if you need to take the child to another state for an extended period for child care, that is not considered relocation, even if it is outside the 50 mile/60 day limits.
But if you are changing your residence, and that change is going to be permanent, or at least long-term, you need to get your legal ducks in a row first. That means either getting your ex to sign off on your move, or proving to the court that it should approve the move.
The easiest way to do this is to sign an agreement with your child's other parent consenting to the move. In addition to consent, the agreement must state the time-sharing arrangement that will be in place going forward, and any arrangements regarding transportation. The court needs to sign off on this agreement, making it an official court order. Of course, in order to get such an agreement signed, your child's other parent must actually consent to your planned move. What if he or she does not?
Petition for Relocation
In that case, your only recourse is to petition the court for permission to move. This petition must be signed under oath or affirmation under penalty of perjury, so making sure you represent everything truthfully and accurately is important. There are a number of specific legal requirements for the petition; preparing it incorrectly could result in its automatic denial. The petition must also be properly served on the other parent.
Even if the petition is prepared perfectly and served in accordance with the law, the parent petitioning for relocation still has the burden of proof of showing that the move would be in the best interests of the child. While you are not required to have an attorney to petition for relocation, having an experienced Florida family law attorney represent you can greatly improve your chances of success.
One final note regarding relocation: the Florida statute regarding relocation applies to parents and who are under the jurisdiction of a state court, such as in a custody/time-sharing matter. It does not apply to married parents, both of whom have the right to their child. Theoretically, a married parent could pick up and move across the country with their child and not be subject to Florida statutes on parental relocation. Of course, the other parent might immediately file for divorce and custody, and the child might need to be returned to Florida; in that case, the first parent's actions in relocating could be viewed unfavorably by the court determining custody.
If you are thinking of relocating, it is wisest to review your options with an experienced Miami family law attorney. Contact us at The Florida Divorce Law Group to schedule a consultation to discuss your questions about moving out of state with your child after a Florida divorce.