Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Custody

Relocation cases are among the most difficult cases to decide because the decision will affect one parent’s usual access to a child. In the recent appellate case Chalmers v. Chalmers, 4D18-2246 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), the mother appealed the court’s decision to grant the father’s petition for relocation.

No information is given in the published opinion about the specific facts of the case. However, the appellate court reviewed the trial court’s decision under an abuse of discretion standard, with the understanding that the trial court’s decision would be affirmed if the findings were supported by substantial competent evidence. The law is established that an appellate court cannot second-guess a trial court’s factual findings, and it is not the appellate court’s role to re-weigh evidence.

The appellate court cited the Florida Statutes: "A presumption in favor of or against a request to relocate with the child does not arise if a parent or other person seeks to relocate and the move will materially affect the current schedule of contact, access, and time-sharing with the non-relocating parent or other person." § 61.13001(7), Fla. Stat. (2017) and found that the “circuit court properly applied the relocation statute as a matter of law. The circuit court's final judgment set forth its detailed findings of fact as to each factor used to determine the best interests of the child under section 61.13(3), Florida Statutes (2017), and to determine a contested relocation under section 61.13001(7), Florida Statutes (2017). The circuit court did not make any presumption in favor of or against the former husband's request for relocation.”  

The appellate court further found there was competent, substantial evidence to support the trial court’s decision to grant the father’s request for relocation and found that the father met his burden to show relocation was in the best interest of the child while the mother failed to refute this showing. Accordingly, the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision to grant relocation.

Because relocation cases depend on the analysis of several factors, it is best to retain counsel to assist you in preparing and presenting your case. If you are looking to relocate or the other parent has filed a petition for relocation, contact a Miami child custody lawyer for a consultation to determine your next best steps.