Relocating to another state, or some distant location, can ignite new legal battles for separated or divorced parents. In Florida, relocation involves complex rules and the court’s determination of a disputed relocation is heavily dependent on the evidence presented by each parent.
Guidelines for Relocation
Section 61.13001 of the Florida Statutes states the procedure for parental relocation with a child. In particular, it provides that:
- If the other parent objects to the relocation of the child, then the relocating parent must go to court for approval of the planned move.
- The relocating parent has the duty to prove that the relocation is in the best interests of the child.
- The court must consider several factors in its determination of the dispute, such as past involvement of each parent in the life of the child, the age and needs of the child, the likely impact the move will have on the child’s development, and the child’s preference given their age and maturity.
- The paramount consideration, as with all cases involving child custody or parenting time, is the child’s best interests.
Time-Based Analysis of the Proposed Relocation
An important rule relating to relocation concerns the timing of the court’s determination of the child’s best interests when considering relocation. In one case, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the best interests determination must be made at the time of the final hearing and must be supported by competent and substantial evidence.
The landmark ruling rejects any ‘prospective-based’ analysis of how a proposed relocation would be in the child’s best interests, because a court cannot reasonably determine whether a future relocation is in the child’s best interests. Any of the various factors used in weighing the child’s best interests, such as the financial capacity of a parent, or the suitability of a new location for the child’s development, can easily change before the extended time period for relocation.
Relocating with a minor child can be overwhelming for the moving parent who must deal with many issues such as packing and transferring belongings, changing the children’s schools, terminating utilities, and ensuring a smooth transition for everyone. Dealing with another parent’s objections can spark a new legal battle, creating added upset. When thinking about relocation, it’s important to speak to an experienced attorney who can analyze your situation and educate you on the legal process and your options.
In Tampa, Florida, the Anton Legal Group has over 30 years of experience in the satisfactory relocation of minor children, helping parents obtain their desired outcomes either through alternative modes of dispute resolution or by aggressively litigating unresolved issues in court.
We encourage you to call our dedicated attorneys at (813) 443-5249 to schedule an initial case analysis of your situation.