How Does Relocation Affect a Child Custody Agreement?
After a divorce, you may express an interest to relocate. It is not uncommon to want a fresh start by moving states or accepting a job in a new city once your divorce has been finalized. However, if you have children, how can you relocate and follow your child custody agreement? In the state of Florida, the court must balance the custodial parent’s right to move with the other parent’s right to have meaningful contact with the children. Today, we go over how relocation can affect a child custody agreement and what you should know before moving to a new state after a divorce.
What Is Considered Relocation?
According to Florida law, a relocation is when a parent moves 50 miles or more from their current residence for a period of at least 60 days. A relocation is not a temporary change for education, medical, or recreational purposes (such as going on vacation).
Will Your Child Custody Agreement Change if One Parent Relocates?
The short answer to this question is: most likely, yes. In Florida, both parents can come to an agreement regarding this relocation and modify their custody agreement to cover the terms of the new move. This custody agreement must contain the following information:
- Show that both parents agreed to the relocation
- Establish a time-sharing schedule for the parent that is not relocating
- State how the parents will cover the cost of transportation for the children during visitation time
After this has been established, the parents can file their signed agreement with the court. It would be advisable to consult with an experienced child custody attorney beforehand to ensure your rights and interests are protected throughout the process.
On the other hand, if one parent disagrees with the relocation, the parent wishing to move must file a petition to relocate with the court and serve it to the other parent.
Filing a Petition to Relocate
In your petition to relocate you must include the following information:
- Address and phone number of the residence where you wish to relocate
- Date of the proposed relocation
- Reasons for the relocation (including a job offer, if applicable)
- Proposed visitation schedule
- Proposed plan for transportation
Once you serve the other parent, he/she has 20 days to file a response. If he/she does not respond, the court can grant the relocation request without a hearing. The parent that wishes to relocate cannot do so without getting court approval first. If he/she does so, he/she could be found in contempt of court.
Factors the Courts Consider Before Determining if a Parent Can Relocate with a Child
The parent trying to relocate must prove that the move is in the child’s best interest. When deciding if relocation would be in a child’s best interests, the court will consider the following factors:
- Child’s relationship with both parents
- Child’s current age
- Impact the move could have on the child
- Child’s needs
- Ability for the child to maintain a relationship with the non-relocating parent
- Child’s preference (if old enough)
- Cost and logistics to maintain visitation between the child and non-relocating parent
- Parents’ reasons for wanting to relocate/not wanting to relocate
- If the relocation would improve the life of the parent and child (including financial wellbeing)
- Whether either parent has a history of substance abuse or domestic violence
- Any other factor the court deems appropriate that may impact the child