"Family is not an important thing, it's everything." - Michael J. Fox
One of the trickiest things to navigate post-divorce or post-breakup when minor children are involved is what happens if one parent wants to, or needs to, move away from the city or town in which the other parent resides? In Florida, if a parent of a minor child wants or needs to move away from the city or town in which the Final Judgment of the previous case was rendered then they will need to go about filing a Petition for Relocation.
A Petition for Relocation only comes into play when the parent desiring to move is looking to move more than 50 miles away from their current address at the time of filing. Anything up to that 50-mile radius will be governed by the terms of your Parenting Plan that will likely instruct each party what steps they need to complete in order to be in compliance with their previous ordered responsibilities (ex.: notice to the other parent prior to the move, new address provided to the other parent, telephone numbers provided, etc.).
The Petition for Relocation needs to include a very specific set of facts, descriptions, and reasons for the move, as well as a proposal for a revised, post-relocation timeshare schedule for the minor child(ren) of the parents. The non-relocating parent can, and oftentimes does object to this Petition, and thus litigation over the issue ensues. During litigation, the goal will be for the parents to present testimony and evidence that is related to the variety of factors the Court will be examining in making its determination on whether the relocation will be in the best interest of the minor child(ren).
It should be noted, however, that the parent wishing to relocate has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence standard that the relocation is in the best interest of the minor child(ren). If that burden is met, then the burden shifts to the non-relocating parent to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed relocation is not in the best interest of the minor child(ren). From there, the Court will make their determination.
This goes without saying, but a parent should never take their minor child and leave the state in which that child lives without first seeking Court approval through this Petition process. If a parent moves to a new location with the minor child(ren) prior to obtaining a Court Order allowing such a move, that parent will have committed parental kidnapping and will be subject to criminal charges. Additionally, a parent moving first and then attempting to file for a Petition to Relocate is typically frowned upon and has a very difficult chance at succeeding. It is always advised to file a Petition to Relocate first and see what comes of it before unilaterally deciding to move beyond the 50-mile radius.
If you or someone you know would like to further discuss the prospect of relocating and its related issues please do not hesitate to reach out to The Hosner Law Group for a consultation regarding the pursuit of relocation.
*It needs to be noted that relocation due to military purposes usually has an alternative set of rules and laws that govern. A relocation with this in mind will be treated in a different manner than a typical relocation action. Consult with an attorney to learn more.