Relocation of Minor Children in Florida
1. Seeking to Relocate?
According to Florida Statute 61.13001(1)(e), 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." In essence, this means that if you are seeking to move with your children, and there is a pending or closed case which already decided timesharing matters, you must comply with the relocation statute. There are two ways which you may do so. First, if the parents both agree to the relocation, they can enter into a written agreement which provides three key elements: (1) the parent who is not relocating gives express consent; (2) the agreement contains a timesharing schedule to be used after the relocation; and (3) the agreement addresses travel expenses to be paid by the parties. The second option comes into play when the party who is not moving refuses to consent to the move. In this case, the parent seeking relocation must file a document called a Petition to Relocate. This Petition to Relocate must contain the following elements:
A description of the location of the intended new residence, including the state, city, and specific physical address, if known.
The mailing address of the intended new residence, if not the same as the physical address, if known.
The home telephone number of the intended new residence, if known.
The date of the intended move or proposed relocation.
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.
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.
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.
This Petition to Relocate must be personally served on the other party if your case has already been closed. If the case is open, service can usually be obtained through certified mail. If the other party objects appropriately, the Court will have to ultimately decide whether to grant the relocation.
2. Objecting to the Relocation?
If you are served with a Petition to Relocate and you do not agree, you must file your objection within 20 days or the relocation will most likely be granted. According to Florida Statute 61.13001(5) a proper objection "must be verified and include the specific factual basis supporting the reasons for seeking a prohibition of the relocation, including a statement of the amount of participation or involvement the objecting party currently has or has had in the life of the child." This means that the objection must be signed and notarized prior to filing it with the Court. Once your objection is properly filed, the Judge will decide your case using the statutory factors outlined above.