All About Relocation With a Minor Child – Contested (Part 2)
What to do when a petition to relocate is contested?
As detailed in Part 1 of All About Relocation With a Minor Child Uncontested, the state of Florida has mandated that no person who is part of a parenting plan (custody) or has timesharing with or access to a child (visitation) as determined in the final judgment of the parent’s dissolution of marriage (divorce) can relocate themselves, with or without the minor child, further than 50 miles from their legal primary residence at the date of final judgment for more that 60 consecutive days. And, there are just three ways a person can relocate:
- Guidelines for relocation will be detailed in the parent’s dissolution of marriage final judgment document.
- Following the dissolution of marriage, when all involved parties agree to the proposed relocation and a petition to relocate is filed, served, and not contested, the court will ratify the document allowing relocation.
- Following successful litigation, obtain a court order allowing relocation.
In Part 1 the steps required to obtain a post dissolution of marriage, ratified court order allowing relocation when all parties agree and there is no opposition to the relocation is discussed. Here, the steps to be taken when the petition for relocation is properly contested within the 20-day limit from filing will be looked at.
What to do next? At this point it would be wise to hire a family law attorney experienced in relocation of a minor child. If you live in Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Miami-Dade, Broward, Orange, or Hillsborough counties an excellent choice of an attorney would be Grant Gisondo, Esq. His office is in West Palm Beach where he offers a free, initial, in-office consultation when he will meet with you personally and explain in detail the following overview of obtaining a court ordered relocation. You can call (561) 530-4568 to make an appointment.
There will be a petition to relocate filed with the circuit court of original proceedings with proper venue and jurisdiction according to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act or the circuit court of residence of either parent, or the circuit court in which the original judgment was adjudicated. This petition will be served on all parties involved with the relocation and each person will have 20 days to reply. A contested petition means the case will go to court with the burden of proof for allowing relocation falling on the person desiring the move. In addition to the information needed in the petition in a non-contested case which includes:
- Timesharing and access schedules for each person involved with the child
- A detailed statement of the reasons making relocation necessary
- Date of proposed move
- Location and address of new residence
- New mailing address and phone number if applicable
- Transportation arrangements following relocation
The trial court will consider additional factors and these include, but are not limited to:
- Quality, type, and amount of involvement with the child by non-relocating persons including parents, siblings and half siblings, persons entitled to timesharing with or access to the child, nonparent with whom child resides, and other meaningful persons in the child’s life.
- Depending on the age of the child, what is the child’s preference regarding relocation?
- What impact will relocation have on the child depending on their age and developmental stage?
- Can there be a continuing and meaningful relationship between the child and persons not relocating?
- Underlying reasons of the petitioner for requesting relocation, including but not limited to:
- Employment and economic circumstances
- Relocation request being made in good faith
- Has the contesting party fulfilled their court ordered financial obligations as stated in the final judgment?
- Will the objecting party have career or other opportunities affected by the requested relocation?
- Are there any issues or history of substance abuse or domestic violence by either parent?
It is important to note that an evidentiary hearing or trial on a request for a temporary or permanent order must take priority on a court’s calendar. Unless good cause is set forth to otherwise lengthen the time to trial, once the notice to schedule the non-jury trial is filed for a contested request for relocation of a minor child the trial must be held no later than 90 days after the notice is filed. And, perhaps most important of all, no parent or person having timesharing with or access to the child can relocate without being in contempt of court. If the child is taken without the court’s permission the child’s immediate return will be ordered and chances of the court then allowing relocation will be severely handicapped. The party in contempt may be ordered to pay reasonable relocation and attorney costs. Additionally, the parenting plan, timesharing, and access schedules will be subject to modification.
If an experienced attorney like Grant Gisondo, Esq. is working for you, you will be advised the best and quickest way to be able to relocate with a court order allowing for relocation. You can rest assured proper procedures and legal guidelines will be followed and your needs will be personally and competently cared for.