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Friday, July 1, 2011

Relocation with Children

When a court enters an order establishing parental rights and/or time-sharing that court retains jurisdiction until all children subject to the order reach the age of majority (18 years) or until the order is domesticated in or transferred to a different jurisdiction.  Pursuant to Florida law, a residential parent cannot permanently relocate a minor child’s principal residence more than 50 miles from the current residence without either a written agreement between all parties who are entitled to time-sharing with the child or a court order.

Relocation by Agreement

A court hearing can be avoided if the primary residential parent and the other parent (and any other party who is entitled to time-sharing with the child) execute a written agreement which reflects the consent to the relocation of the child’s principal residence, defines an access or time-sharing schedule for the non-relocating parent, and describes, if necessary, any transportation arrangements related to the time-sharing schedule.  The parties’ agreement must be ratified by court order however; as long as all the required information is addressed the order can be entered without the necessity of a court hearing.

Relocation by Court Order

If a relocation agreement has not been executed then a notice of intent to relocate must be filed with the Court.  The notice must include a description of the location of the intended new residence, the date of the intended move, the new address and phone number if known, the reason for the relocation, and a detailed statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation.  A proposed revised visitation schedule must be included in or attached to the notice.  The non-custodial parent then has 30 days to object to the relocation.  If the Court does not receive an objection within 30 days then it will be presumed that the non-custodial parent is consenting to the move and the Court will permit the relocation.  If an objection is filed within the allotted time then the parent seeking to relocate must apply to the Court for permission to do so.

When making a decision on relocation there are several factors that the Court must consider including, but not limited to, the following:

  • the nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent proposing to relocate with the child and the non-relocating parent, as well as the child’s relationship with other significant persons in the child’s life;
  • the child’s needs and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child;
  • the feasibility of preserving a meaningful relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent;
  • whether the relocation will enhance the quality of life for both the relocating parent and the child; and
  • the reasons of each parent seeking or proposing the relocation.

If you violate Florida law by relocating with the minor child without complying with the relocation requirements you will be subject to contempt proceedings and other proceedings to compel the return of the child.  Therefore, if you are considering relocating with your minor child you should consult with an attorney to ensure that you are in compliance with the laws of the state of Florida.


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