Helping Resolve Custody Disputes in Florida
Following a divorce, custody can be an ongoing issue between parents. Adjusting to life after the divorce has been finalized can be very serious for both you and your children, even if you are the parent with physical custody. Things can become even more complicated if the custodial parent (you or the children's other parent) decides to move out of the state where the custody agreement was established. This requires additional litigation, as it essentially starts the custody case anew because of different circumstances. Whether you or the other parent have decided to move out of state, it is in your best interest to hire an experienced family lawyer who will work to ensure that you reach a fair and acceptable resolution to any custody disputes.
When Can I Move with My Child?
Any move by a parent farther than 50 miles from their current residence requires an agreement of the parties or court order. Upon filing a Petition for Relocation, a parent can move the court for temporary approval. The court may grant this request if the court feels there is a high likelihood that the petition will be granted.
Agreement Between Parents
If the other parent agrees to the relocation, then most of the other requirements will not be an issue. If the other parent objects to the relocation, the case may end up in front of a judge who will review the following factors listed below, and ultimately decide whether or not relocation is in the best interest of the child.
If the custodial parent is relocating for a job transfer, a promotion, or other factors that will increase the child's quality of life and financial support, this will be a major factor in the judge's evaluation process. However, although positive economic factors are an extremely important issue as it relates to the welfare of the children, it does not guarantee that a judge will approve a relocation proposal.
If the custodial parent is moving in order to get more family support, for them or the child, this will be taken into consideration by the judge before a final decision is rendered. In addition, the judge will consider how this will affect the child's relationship with their family in their current location.
If the relocation is to provide the child with an opportunity to receive a better education, this factor can influence a judge's final decision, but If the move is not specifically centered around giving the child access to better education, it will still be important for the parent who is relocating to illustrate that the new school system is similar to the child's current school system.
The final decision will ultimately be made as it relates to the best interest of the child or children. In addition to these factors, the judge may take your child's or children's wishes into consideration, as well as a variety of other things that give the judge a complete understanding of the situation. If the aforementioned issues do not factor into your decision to move, then it is unlikely that a judge will approve the relocation proposal. Additionally, if your previous spouse is requesting to move with your child or children and is not able to prove these as being major factors in the decision, I will work to protect your child's best interests.
How Can an Attorney Help Me?
During your initial consultation, you will have the opportunity to discuss the details of your situation and gain an understanding of how I would approach your case. The goal of any good family lawyer is to represent their client's best interests. Family court judges have a lot of discretion. An experienced attorney will know the law, but will also know the temperament of the particular judge assigned to your case. Some judges value education more than other factors thus a strong presentation of the anticipated school that the child will be attending will be crucial. Whereas another judge might value safety and thus a strong presentation of the new home and neighborhood will be crucial. Thus, an attorney can present your case in the best light so as to achieve the best outcome.
I Plan to Move
If you plan to move with your child or children, we will work with you to understand your reasons for relocating and determine how to illustrate that the move is in the child's best interest to a judge. It is important for you to have significant reasons for the proposed move because family court judges take extreme interest in the well-being of the children involved in a divorce or any case involving custody issues. If the other parent does not approve of the relocation, a court will not approve an unjustified or arbitrary move. If the judge is able to clearly determine that the move is in the child's best interests, then your proposal will be approved, and I will then work with both parties to modify the existing custody plan.
I Object to a Move
If the other parent is the party who is requesting a move and you are objecting to the proposal, I will first discuss the reasons for your objection, and I will work to create a sound argument against the relocation. Moreover, I will identify possible solutions to the situation and will take each reason the other parent provides in favor of the relocation into account. Our goal will be to force the other parent to file a petition with the court, at which point I will present your case to a judge by demonstrating why the move isn't in your child's best interest. If we are able to prove to the judge that it is not in your child's best interest to move and the judge determines that they will not approve the relocation proposal, then we will work with the other parent to either change the custody plan to allow for their move, or the proposal will be denied completely.
Regardless of which side of a parental relocation proposal you are on, I will work with you to obtain the outcome you want and deserve. With my professional help and experience in the family legal system in Florida, you can confidently move forward with your case, because you know that you are supported by a focused family law attorney.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 11 percent of the population moves residences every year. Approximately 37 million people change their homes, and employment is the main reason. For many people, this change is relatively straightforward. For those who have a custody agreement for minor children with either an ex-spouse or former partner, however, the process can be a challenge. Florida law states specific rules about where the other parent may move with children after a divorce or separation, and a parent may be required to obtain the approval of the court before heading out of town.
Local Moves Are Typically Permitted without Approval
Simply moving houses in the same area is typically not a problem. Ex-spouses/partners are free to move where they choose as long as the child remains near the other parent. No permission from the court is necessary for this type of move. Florida law does, however, place restrictions on moving a child more than 50 miles from the other parent.
A Move Over 50 Miles Does Require Legal Action
You've been offered an exciting promotion and pay raise, or you want to move closer to an ailing family member. If you are co-parenting with a former spouse, the process may not be as simple as you hope. Florida law states that a parent cannot move more than 50 miles away from the other parent without his or her consent. If the other parent agrees to the move, the matter can be settled rather quickly. The details of the relocation and your custody agreement would be put into writing and submitted to the court.
If, however, the other parent does not consent to the move, you may have to take him or her to court. Once a petition to relocate is filed, the other parent has 30 days to respond. During those 30 days, you may not move. However, the law allows for an expedited hearing within 90 days of the close of pleadings (the parent's petition and the other parent's objection to the petition).
Factors that Contribute to the Approval of a Relocation in Florida
The Florida courts do not lean one way or the other in determining where a child should live. Every case is different and the main goal of the courts is to act in the best interest of the child or children.
Typically, the decision will be based on a number of factors, including:
- Involvement in the child's life
- Timeliness of support payments
- Reason for relocation
- The child's preference (if the child is old enough to offer one)
The law seeks to help maintain a child's relationship with non-relocating parents as much as possible, so it is important to be prepared for your hearing. It is best to have a specific plan and to offer compelling reasons as to why and how a move would benefit your child.
If you are sharing custody of your child or children with an ex-spouse and one of you is considering a distant relocation, as an experienced and dedicated family lawyer, I will help protect your rights and your relationship with your child.