Relocation

1. Seeking to Relocate?

According to Florida Statute 61.13001(1)(e), relocation “means a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.”  In essence, this means that if you are seeking to move with your children, and there is a pending or closed case which already decided timesharing matters, you must comply with the relocation statute.  There are two ways which you may do so.  First, if the parents both agree to the relocation, they can enter into a written agreement which provides three key elements: (1) the parent who is not relocating gives express consent; (2) the agreement contains a timesharing schedule to be used after the relocation; and (3) the agreement addresses travel expenses to be paid by the parties.  The second option comes into play when the party who is not moving refuses to consent to the move.  In this case, the parent seeking relocation must file a document called a Petition to Relocate.  This Petition to Relocatemust contain the following elements:

1.  A description of the location of the intended new residence, including the state, city, and specific physical address, if known.

2.  The mailing address of the intended new residence, if not the same as the physical address, if known.

3.  The home telephone number of the intended new residence, if known.

4.  The date of the intended move or proposed relocation.

5.  A detailed statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation. If one of the reasons is based upon a job offer that has been reduced to writing, the written job offer must be attached to the petition.

6.  A proposal for the revised postrelocation schedule for access and time-sharing together with a proposal for the postrelocation transportation arrangements necessary to effectuate time-sharing with the child. Absent the existence of a current, valid order abating, terminating, or restricting access or time-sharing or other good cause predating the petition, failure to comply with this provision renders the petition to relocate legally insufficient.

7.  Substantially the following statement, in all capital letters and in the same size type, or larger, as the type in the remainder of the petition:

A RESPONSE TO THE PETITION OBJECTING TO RELOCATION MUST BE MADE IN WRITING, FILED WITH THE COURT, AND SERVED ON THE PARENT OR OTHER PERSON SEEKING TO RELOCATE WITHIN 20 DAYS AFTER SERVICE OF THIS PETITION TO RELOCATE. IF YOU FAIL TO TIMELY OBJECT TO THE RELOCATION, THE RELOCATION WILL BE ALLOWED, UNLESS IT IS NOT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD, WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE AND WITHOUT A HEARING.

This Petition to Relocate must be personally served on the other party if your case has already been closed.  If the case is open, service can usually be obtained through certified mail.  If the other party objects appropriately, the Court will have to ultimately decide whether to grant the relocation.  In deciding on a potential relocation, the Court must evaluate the following factors:

(a) The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent or other person proposing to relocate with the child and with the nonrelocating parent, other persons, siblings, half-siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life.

(b) The age and developmental stage of the child, the needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child.

(c) The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating parent or other person and the child through substitute arrangements that take into consideration the logistics of contact, access, and time-sharing, as well as the financial circumstances of the parties; whether those factors are sufficient to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the child and the nonrelocating parent or other person; and the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent or other person once he or she is out of the jurisdiction of the court.

(d) The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.

(e) Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the parent or other person seeking the relocation and the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefits or educational opportunities.

(f) The reasons each parent or other person is seeking or opposing the relocation.

(g) The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent or other person and whether the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic circumstances of the parent or other person seeking relocation of the child.

(h) That the relocation is sought in good faith and the extent to which the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the parent or other person seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and marital property and marital debt obligations.

(i) The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other person if the relocation occurs.

(j) A history of substance abuse or domestic violence as defined in Florida Statute 741.28 or which meets the criteria of Florida Statute 39.806(1)(d) by either parent, including a consideration of the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation.

(k) Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child or as set forth in Florida Statute 61.13.

2. Objecting to the Relocation?

If you are served with a Petition to Relocate and you do not agree, you must file your objection within 20 days or the relocation will most likely be granted.  According to Florida Statute 61.13001(5) a proper objection “must be verified and include the specific factual basis supporting the reasons for seeking a prohibition of the relocation, including a statement of the amount of participation or involvement the objecting party currently has or has had in the life of the child.”  This means that the objection must be signed and notarized prior to filing it with the Court.  Once your objection is properly filed, the Judge will decide your case using the statutory factors outlined above.

The Orlando Family Firm, located conveniently in downtown Orlando is a full-service family law firm dedicated to providing compassionate and aggressive representation for our clients.  As Orlando relocation lawyers we are focused on representing you and getting your legal matters resolved as quickly and proactively as possible.  Our firm typically handles family law cases throughout Central Florida in Orange County, Osceola County and Seminole County.  We have significant trial experience in handling alimony cases.  We believe that communication with our clients is of utmost importance so that our clients know exactly what is going on in their case and to help take the mystery out of the legal process.  Going through a divorce or other family law proceeding is a trying time for our clients and we provide the peace of mind to help our clients resolve and move past their family legal issues.

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