Jan. 18, 2024
If a parent is relocating more than 50 miles from his/ her current residence, then that parent may petition the Court to relocate for the purposes of developing a long distance parenting plan. This also applies to the parent who does not have seek to relocate with the Child(ren). The relocation statutes applies if a divorce/ paternity proceeding has been filed and is pending in Florida or if a Florida Court has already established a permanent parenting plan which a parent is now seeking to modify.
By way of example, let’s say that the parents have a permanent Florida parenting plan which provides both parents with substantial timesharing. Further, both parents regularly exercise timesharing with their Child and both are closely bonded with the Child; and both parents are financially supporting their Child. Parent “A” wants to relocate to a Florida city which is more than 50 miles from his/ her current residence. Parent “A” will earn more money and clearly improve the economic quality of life of the Child and himself if permitted to relocate. On the other hand, Parent “B” has a very closely bonded relationship with the Child, and she also has been the primary nurturer of the Child since birth. Would the Court permit relocation? The economic improvement of a Child’s quality of life versus the bonded relationship with the non-relocating parent are two competing interests. In my opinion, the Court would need more evidence such as whether the relocating parent has a history of successful co-parenting with Parent “B”; and/ or whether Parent “B” has family in her neighborhood who are also closely bonded with the Child and/ or Parent “B” cannot transfer her job to the new city.
What if the Court denies Parent A’s request for relocation but he relocates anyway without the Child? Can the Court then grant long distance timesharing between Child and Parent “A”. If the Petition for Relocation is denied, and if Parent “A” did not also file a “modification” of the Parenting Plan to allow for long distance timesharing, then the Court cannot then grant long distance timesharing. Make sure you speak with counsel if you are seeking to relocate.
Relocation hearings are the most difficult cases for a Court because the Judge knows that his/ her decision will impact the family dynamics. I have handled numerous relocation cases. If you are in need of legal advice, please do not hesitate to call upon me to discuss the particulars of your situation.