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Child Custody Relocation Laws in Florida

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Child custody lawyers frequently see families torn apart through a divorce. Parents often have particular constraints placed on them by the court. For example, custody agreements frequently have rules regarding where the custodial parent may live. If a custodial party wishes to relocate from Coral Springs for family reasons or better job opportunities, for example, he or she likely would need to seek the court's approval. These rules protect the child and the noncustodial parent, giving the latter reasonable access for visitation.

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Every state has differing laws, rules and customs on geographic arrangements regarding child custody. In Florida, the following rules govern these arrangements. Experienced Coral Springs child custody attorneys are able to explain how these rules work in Broward County, Florida, and help draft relocation agreements.

What is "Relocation?"

Florida statutes govern only moves of more than 50 miles from the principal home of the parent or other custodial guardians. It does not address moves across town or to a neighborhood farther away as long as the distance is shorter than that limit. The statute equally applies whether the move is within Florida or to another state.

Length of relocation

Only moves greater than 60 days are addressed by the courts. Vacations and trips for medical care or education are temporary in nature and are not considered a relocation under the statutes.

Relocation by agreement

If the parents and all custodial parties agree to the relocation, the laws regarding relocation require that a document be drawn and signed by all relevant parties. This includes the custodial parent or other party and the noncustodial parent. The agreement must describe the date of the proposed move, the new time-sharing schedule and any new transportation arrangements involving the child. If there is a time-sharing schedule currently in force, the parties must seek ratification by a court order.

Petition to relocate

If the parties do not have an agreement as described above, the parent seeking to relocate must file a petition to the court for permission to move. This petition to relocate must be signed by the petitioner, attesting to its truthfulness under penalty of perjury. It should include the proposed date of the move and the address and telephone number if known. The reasons for the relocation should be part of the petition, including any written job offers. A proposal for visitation after the move should be included, along with transportation arrangements. The petition must then be legally served to the other parent and every other person who is legally entitled to visitation or time-sharing with the child.

Response to a petition

Once a parent has been legally served with a petition to relocate, he or she must respond to the court within 20 days. If the parent fails to respond to the petition, the relocation would be allowed unless the court feels it would not be in the child's best interest. It is imperative that parents respond immediately to any petition. In cases like this, a Coral Springs child custody lawyer would be able to help with a proper and timely response.

Moving a child without permission

When a parent moves a child to a new location more than 50 miles away from the approved home without the court's permission, there can be severe legal ramifications. That parent would face contempt of court and other legal proceedings.

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