Timesharing and Relocation in Florida

Sometimes after a divorce or separation, a parent will want to relocate further away from their prior home or even out of state due to a job opportunity, second marriage or other compelling reason.  However, when a parenting plan has been established by Court Order, your relocation can have a dramatic impact on your child and the other parent.

As a rule, you must have court approval to relocate more than 50 miles away from the other parent. That Court order can ratify a written agreement between the parties or it can be the result of an evidentiary hearing granting one party’s request over the objection of the other.  However, each case is decided based on its unique facts and circumstances of the situation. Because a significant move will affect the whole family, the court will need to get involved to settle disputes.

When a Court Will Permit a Relocation

A Court will always consider whether the relocation will be in the best interests of the child. Section 61.13001, Florida Statutes requires the Court to examine factors such as:

  • The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent or other person proposing to relocate with the child and with the non-relocating parent, extended family, siblings, half-siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life;
  • The age and developmental stage of the child, the needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child;
  • The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent or other person and the child through substitute arrangements that take into consideration the logistics of contact, access, and time-sharing, as well as the financial circumstances of the parties; whether those factors are sufficient to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent or other person; and the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent or other person once he or she is out of the jurisdiction of the court;
  • The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child;
  • Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the parent or other person seeking the relocation and the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefits or educational opportunities;
  • The reasons each parent or other person is seeking or opposing the relocation.
  • The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent or other person and whether the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic circumstances of the parent or other person seeking relocation of the child;
  • That the relocation is sought in good faith and the extent to which the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the parent or other person seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and marital property and marital debt obligations;
  • The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other person if the relocation occurs;
  • A history of substance abuse or domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28 or which meets the criteria of s. 39.806(1)(d) by either parent, including a consideration of the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation;
  • Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child or as set forth in s. 61.13, when establishing or modifying parenting plans.

The statute does not technically require the judge to examine a parent’s motive in making a move. However, if the main reason that the parent wants to move is to get the child away from the other parent, permission to relocate will likely be denied.

Filing a Notice of Intent to Relocate

If a parent wants to relocate, he or she must file a Petition with the Court if the move is over 50 miles away. The petition should include the following information:

  • A description of the location of the intended new residence, including the state, city, and specific physical address, if known;
  • The mailing address of the intended new residence, if not the same as the physical address, if known;
  • The home telephone number of the intended new residence, if known;
  • The date of the intended move or proposed relocation;
  • A detailed statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation. If one of the reasons is based upon a job offer that has been reduced to writing, the written job offer must be attached to the petition;
  • A proposal for the revised post-relocation schedule for access and time-sharing together with a proposal for the post-relocation transportation arrangements necessary to effectuate time-sharing with the child. Absent the existence of a current, valid order abating, terminating, or restricting access or time-sharing or other good cause predating the petition, failure to comply with this provision renders the petition to relocate legally insufficient.

The parent requesting relocation should also appropriately serve the other parent and provide information on how he or she should object, pursuant to statutory requirements.  McKINNON LEGAL is able to help you comply with Florida law when desiring to relocate with your minor children. Call to speak with our attorneys today.