Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Custody

One appellate case decided earlier this year shows how the waters of Florida relocation cases can get “muddied” and are not always straight-forward. In Gimonge v. Gimonge, 5D17-2747 (Fla. 5th DCA 2018), the disagreement as to relocation resulted from the parties temporary agreement entered after a petition for dissolution of marriage was filed.

The mother filed for divorce, and after doing so relocated with the parties’ child to Michigan without the father’s consent or a court order. The father then filed an emergency pick-up order and a hearing was held. It appears the parties ran out of time at the hearing, and they subsequently entered a stipulation which allowed the child to remain in Michigan with the mother pending the outcome of a mediation. If the parties were unable to settle at mediation, they agreed either could file a motion for temporary relief.

The parties further agreed to certain summer visitation for the father. When the mother did not abide by that agreement, the father filed a motion which resulted in him receiving make-up timesharing in Florida. At the end of that make-up timesharing, the father filed a motion to prevent the removal of the child from Florida, resulting in the mother filing a motion for pick up order. The father’s motion was denied, and a pick-up order was entered in favor of the mother. The father appealed.

The appellate court found in favor of the mother, holding the plain terms of the parties’ stipulation contemplated that the child would remain in Michigan with the mother and that the issues raised by the father in his motion for pick up order could be litigated at trial. Therefore, the court found no error in the trial court’s ruling.

The father’s initial agreement regarding relocation was upheld as are most agreements entered between parties. Before you enter an agreement, consult with a Florida child custody attorney to determine the long-term consequences of the agreement.