Several questions have been asked about whether a parent can relocate a child without the permission of the parent or court order. Unless the terms of the Custody Order allow relocation, a parent cannot relocate a child without following the provisions in Florida Statute Section 61.13001.
“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.
The parents can consent to the relocation of the child. However, a Petition must be filed with the Court for an Order to be issued approving the relocation.
If the parents do not consent to relocation then a Petition must be filed by the parent requesting relocation and shall be serveed upon the other parent, and every other person entitled to access to or time-sharing with the child.
(a) The petition to relocate must be signed under oath or affirmation under penalty of perjury and include: 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.
(b) The petition to relocate must be served on the other parent and on every other person entitled to access to and time-sharing with the child. If there is a pending court action regarding the child, service of process may be according to court rule. Otherwise, service of process shall be according to chapters 48 and 49 or via certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested. (c) A parent or other person seeking to relocate has a continuing duty to provide current and updated information required by this section when that information becomes known. (d) If the other parent and any other person entitled to access to or time-sharing with the child fails to timely file a response objecting to the petition to relocate, it is presumed that the relocation is in the best interest of the child and that the relocation should be allowed, and the court shall, absent good cause, enter an order specifying that the order is entered as a result of the failure to respond to the petition and adopting the access and time-sharing schedule and transportation arrangements contained in the petition. The order may be issued in an expedited manner without the necessity of an evidentiary hearing. If a response is timely filed, the parent or other person may not relocate, and must proceed to a temporary hearing or trial and obtain court permission to relocate. (e) Relocating the child without complying with the requirements of this subsection subjects the party in violation to contempt and other proceedings to compel the return of the child and may be taken into account by the court in any initial or postjudgment action seeking a determination or modification of the parenting plan or the access or time-sharing schedule as: 1. A factor in making a determination regarding the relocation of a child. 2. A factor in determining whether the parenting plan or the access or time-sharing schedule should be modified. 3. A basis for ordering the temporary or permanent return of the child. 4. Sufficient cause to order the parent or other person seeking to relocate the child to pay reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees incurred by the party objecting to the relocation. 5. Sufficient cause for the award of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs, including interim travel expenses incident to access or time-sharing or securing the return of the child. Please consult with a Family Law Attorney if you need additional information on proceeding with a relocation of a child.