There are many valid reasons why a person with custody of a child might need to move. Sometimes, the cost of living in the person’s current area is too high. This is a fairly common reason to move after a divorce, as divorces can radically change a person’s financial situation. Another reason might be a new job or the need to move to a location where better work opportunities present themselves.
In Florida, whatever a custodial parent’s reason for moving may be, they cannot move more than 50 miles away from their current residence if there is another party with whom they share child custody or visitation rights unless they get approval first from the other party or a judge.
How do custody laws work in move-away cases in Florida?
Custody laws are fairly strict when it comes to moving. If a child’s parents are divorced, they might share custody of the child. But even if they don’t, the noncustodial parent may have visitation rights. As such, moving a significant distance with a child could make sharing custody or visitation a lot more difficult, if not impossible.
Florida law requires custodial parents who want to move a child more than 50 miles away for a period greater than 60 days to inform the child’s other parent and get their consent.
If consent is not given, the custodial parent cannot move with the child without first obtaining a court order. Moving a child without the consent of the child’s other parent can be a serious crime, and it could negatively impact the custodial parent’s current custody arrangement.
If you are divorced in Florida and moving more than 50 miles away with a child for a period of greater than 60 days, you will need to get permission from your ex in order to legally move. If they don’t consent, you will need to first obtain a court order in Florida allowing for the move before you can legally move.
What if the other parent consents?
If both parents consent to the move, they will need to file a written agreement with the court. The agreement must supply details about the move and any changes that need to occur regarding things like their visitation schedule.
If anyone else has visitation rights to the child, their consent is also needed.
What if the other parent does not consent?
Things grow much more complex if the other parent doesn’t consent to the move. If the custodial parent still wants to try for the move, they must file a petition with the court.
A variety of important details must be included in the petition, including the reasons for the move, the new address, and proposed changes to visiting and parenting schedules.
Furthermore, a notice must be sent to the non-moving parent that tells them how to object to the custodial parent’s petition.
- If there is no response from the non-moving parent, the judge will usually allow the move.
- If the non-moving parent responds and continues to object to the move, there will be a legal battle in which both parties are able to present arguments regarding why the move is or isn’t in the best interest of the child. A judge will then decide on what is best for the child.
Summary of what happens when a divorced custodial parent wants to move
If you are a divorced parent and want to move away with a child, assuming the child’s other parent is alive, you should generally take the following steps before moving with the child:
- Consider the necessity of the move and what is in the best interest of your child.
- Inform your ex-spouse of your intention to move.
- If they consent to the move, have them fill out a written statement explicitly stating this. The statement must detail any necessary changes to your current visitation arrangement.
- If they don’t consent (and you still want to move with the child), you must petition the court, seeking an order to allow the move.
- You must send a notice telling the other parent how to object to your petition.
- If the other party continues to object, you will need to present your case in court, justifying the move and the other party giving the reasons for their objection.
- A judge will then decide whether the move is in the best interest of the child.
Factors the court considers
Several factors will be considered by the court if a parent wants to move away with a child, including the following:
- The child’s preference
- Whether the move would enhance the child’s quality of life
- How the move might impact the child’s development
- The reasons both parents give to support or object to the move
- The nature of the relationship each parent’s relationship with the child
- The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent
Tips to help you have a successful move-away case in Florida
If you want to successfully and legally gain permission to move away with a child in Florida, take these steps:
- Make a sincere effort to gain the other parent’s consent. Present them with valid information on why the move is necessary and good for the child. Gaining their consent will allow you to skip a legal battle and make the entire process much smoother.
- Follow the law exactly. Do not skip any steps that are required to legally move with a child.
- Consider what changes would be necessary to the child’s visitation plan.
- Prepare strong arguments regarding why your move is necessary. Talk about how it might help your child. If you can, gather proof to back up the arguments you make.
- While you may be able to resolve some of these issues in mediation, you might need further legal help in some cases. Since these cases can potentially be quite complex, you may need to hire a lawyer to help.
At Hello Divorce, we help clients before, during, and after the divorce process with the issues that matter to them. Our goal is to help you move on to your next chapter with as little stress and expense as possible. To discuss your situation, please schedule a free 15-minute call with an account coordinator.
ReferencesInstructions for Florida Supreme Court Approved Family Law Form 12.950(d), Supplemental Petition to Permit Relocation With Minor or Dependent Child(ren). Florida Courts.