Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Child Custody

Divorcing parents may face a dilemma when one parent is due to be deported after a marriage is dissolved. The court is faced with the question of whether or not to permit relocation of the child with the deported parent. In one recently decided case, we review an appellate court's consideration of a trial court's decision to grant a prospective relocation that turned on whether or not the mother's application for US citizenship was granted. 

In Castleman v. Bicaldo, 4D17-827 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), the wife immigrated to the US from the Philippines to marry the husband. A little over two years into the parties' marriage, the husband filed for divorce. The wife sought alimony and relocation of the parties' child since she was not a citizen and only had conditional permanent residency. 

The trial court awarded the wife durational alimony of $2,000 per month for three years. It also granted relocation to the Philippines if the wife's application for citizenship was ultimately denied.  The husband appealed, arguing (1) the length of the alimony award was inappropriate and (2) the trial court failed to follow the Florida Statutes in deciding the relocation issue. 

The appellate court agreed with the husband on these two issues. First, the appellate court ruled the length of a durational alimony award may not exceed the length of the marriage in accordance with the Florida Statutes. The length of the marriage is measured from the date of marriage to the date of filing the petition, which in this case was two years and two months. 

Second, the appellate court found error in the trial court's refusal to apply section 61.13001 of the Florida Statutes when considering the wife's relocation claim. The trial court appeared to reason that because the wife would be forced to relocate should due to her immigration status, section 61.13001 did not apply.  The appellate court held that no part of the statute states it does not apply to involuntary relocation, and that it was in any event error for the trial court to prospectively find that relocation was in the child's best interest (since the mother's citizenship application could be resolved on a distant, unknown date).  

Relocation cases require specific analysis. You may want to know your chances of being able to relocate, and a consultation with a Miami child custody lawyer may help you understand this. Schedule a meeting to go over your best options.