After parents separate and establish their parenting plan, their lives can go through major changes. Once such change is relocation to another county, state or even country. An opportunity to relocate can be presented by a great job offer or an engagement to a new partner. This presents a difficult dilemma, however, when the non-relocating parent's visitation rights will be impacted by the move.
Because relocation can negatively affect a parent's visitation rights, not to mention a child's routine and school attendance, Florida child custody laws state a parent may not relocate more than 50 miles from his/her residence without the written permission of the other parent or a court order when there is an order in place establishing time-sharing or at the time of filing an action to establish time-sharing.
The factors the court must consider, according to the Florida Statutes, in determining relocation include:
(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 s. 741.28 or which meets the criteria of s. 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 s. 61.13.
Contested Florida parental relocation cases are among the most difficult to decide since one parent's time-sharing and parental rights may be greatly affected if relocation is approved. Therefore, it is important that whether you are seeking relocation or defending against it, you consult with an experienced Miami child custody lawyer to guide you through the process and give you the best shot at a resolution that is in your favor.