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Relocating with a child when you have a custody order

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Custody Modifications

If you want to relocate with a child if your family’s situation is subject to a custody order in Florida, that means navigating a set of legal complexities designed to balance the child’s best interests with the rights of both parents. 

Florida courts recognize that life circumstances change, and relocation may become necessary for various reasons, including employment opportunities, health issues or family support. However, given the potential impact of a relocation on a child’s relationship with both parents, the law sets forth specific requirements and considerations for parents wishing to relocate more than 50 miles from their current residence. 

Understanding Florida’s relocation statute

Under Florida Statute 61.13001, relocation is defined as moving 50 miles or more from a child’s principal residence for at least 60 consecutive days, not including temporary absences for vacation, education or health care. The statute outlines detailed procedures that must be followed, whether the parents agree to the relocation or if the move is contested.

Agreeable terms

If both parents agree to a relocation, they must sign a written agreement consenting to the move and detailing the parenting time rights and transportation arrangements for the non-relocating parent. This agreement must be ratified by the court to become legally binding. Until then, the order on file with the courts remains in effect. 

Contested petition to relocate

If the child’s other parent does not consent, the parent who wants to relocate will need to file a petition with the court. The petition must detail specific information, including the new address, the reason for moving, a proposed parenting schedule and transportation plans. The other parent then has the opportunity to object.

If the courts are called upon to make a decision in a contested relocation case the child’s best interests will be treated as the primary concern at issue. The court will evaluate factors such as the child’s relationship with both parents, the age and needs of the child, the impact on the child’s education and social life and their ability to maintain the relationship with the non-relocating parent. The court will also carefully examine the reasons for the proposed relocation. 

Relocating with a child subject to a custody order in Florida is a concern that requires careful consideration and adherence to legal procedures. Otherwise, parents could end up escalating tensions, compromising their rights and even risking the possibility of being accused of parental kidnapping. As such, it’s generally a good idea to seek personalized feedback before committing to any particular course of action when it comes to relocation that is subject to a custody order.