All About Relocation With a Minor Child – Uncontested (Part 1)
What steps to take when all parties agree uncontested, court ratified relocation
In Florida, where and with whom a child lives following a divorce or dissolution of marriage as it is now termed, is determined by a parenting timesharing plan which is drawn up by the parties involved, worked out at a mediation (required before a judge will hear a case), or determined by a judge in court. Unless very strict guidelines require sole parental responsibility, Joint responsibility, better known as shared parental responsibility for the child, require both physically and in decision making is how, since 2009, Florida has determined what is “best for the child”. One of the most important areas of parental timesharing is where the child will reside. This will include the number of overnights each week, as well as times of “accesses to” or “timesharing” with the child (previously termed “visitation”). Additionally, in Florida, unless details for relocation are (1) included in the final judgment, or (2) following the final judgment agreed to by all parties concerned, put in writing, signed, notarized, and ratified by the court or (3) obtained in a court order allowing for relocation, no parent or person who is entitled to timesharing with or access to the child is allowed to move their legal residence further than 50 miles from the place where they claimed legal residence at the time of final judgment.
But of course there are many instances when a person needs to move their principal residence more than 50 miles and for more than the 60 consecutive days allowed for a temporary absence, often needing to take the child with them as well. Vacations and temporary relocation needed for education and health care for the child are exempt. Hopefully guidelines for relocation have already been ordered in the final decree but if they haven’t, Florida State Statute 61.13001 gives very specific directions regarding the necessary procedures to follow in order to be able to relocate. If, at any time, a parent or any persons entitled to timesharing with or access to the child decides to relocate more than the allowed 50 miles he/she will be in contempt and proceedings, if the child’s involved, will take place to order return of the child. Additionally, the offending person may be ordered to pay reasonable relocation and attorney costs. The failure to obtain a relocation order can also be a negative factor in deciding relocation and whether timesharing, the parenting plan, and/or access schedule should be modified.
The Florida Supreme Court has approved a form requesting relocation to be included in the final judgment and one for following the final judgment. Following the dissolution of marriage, if relocation becomes necessary, hopefully all parties can agree with the request and the completed form can be filed uncontested. The form must include signatures of all persons legally involved with timesharing, the parenting plan, and the timesharing schedule. Additionally, transportation arrangements, timesharing and access schedules, a detailed statement of the reasons making relocation necessary, date of proposed move, location and address of new residence, and new mailing address and phone number, if applicable must all be included. If there is no objectionable response in writing served to all parties concerned within 20 days of filing, and finding the relocation is in the best interests of the child, the court will allow the relocation. If, however, the relocation petition is properly contested within the 20 days, there will be other steps to follow.
These steps will be covered in the next blog, All About Relocation of a Minor Child Part 2 (What to do when a petition to relocate is contested). Following this, temporary relocation will be covered in the blog All About Relocation of a Minor Child Part 3 (What you need to know about temporary relocation).