Florida law defines relocation, when the parents of a child do not live together, as one party moving 50 miles or more from their current residence, for a minimum of 60 days. It excludes temporary relocation for education, vacation, or medical treatment. When both parents consent to the relocation, they must sign an agreement to be approved by the court. The agreement must reflect a revised timesharing schedule, transportation arrangements, and other pertinent issues that facilitate the child’s continued meaningful contact with both parents and other persons that have visitation and custody rights. Depending on the factual circumstances, relocation can be a simple process for some. In contrast, for others, relocation is a much more complicated matter.
Factors in Contested Relocation
When the parents disagree on relocation, a petition to relocate is filed with the court to decide the outcome. When a parent or other persons entitled to timesharing with a child fails to file a timely response to a petition to relocate, it may be presumed that the relocation is in the child’s best interest. However, should good cause exist for the denial of a relocation request, the court may deny a petition to relocate. In addition, Florida Statute § 61.13001(7) provides that a presumption in favor, or against by either parent will not arise if “the move will materially affect the current schedule of contact, access, and timesharing with the nonrelocating parent or other person.”
Burden of Proof
The parent wishing to relocate has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that relocation is in the child’s best interest. In meeting that proof, the burden shifts to the nonrelocating parent or another person, showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed relocation is not in the child’s best interest.
Florida Statute § 61.13001(7) provides the factors the court will use in assessing whether relocation would be in the best interests of a child. In other words, a parent who wishes to relocate must be prepared to demonstrate why the relocation is in the child’s best interests. Alternately, a nonrelocating parent or a person who contests the relocation must be prepared to demonstrate why the relocation is not in the child’s best interests, utilizing these same factors.
According to Florida Statute § 61.13001(7):
In reaching a decision regarding a proposed temporary or permanent relocation, the court shall evaluate all of the following:
(a) The nature, quality, the extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent 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 persons and the child through substitute arrangements. They must consider the logistics of contact, access, timesharing, and the parties’ financial circumstances. Those factors must be sufficient to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the child and the nonrelocating parent or other persons. In addition, the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent or other persons once they are out of the court’s jurisdiction.
(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 persons 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 persons. The court will determine 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 their financial obligations. It includes child support, spousal support, marital property, and marital debt obligations.
(i) The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other persons 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. It includes considering the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation.
(k) Any other factor affecting the child’s best interest or as set forth by state law.
Let Alba & Straile PLLC put our Decades of Combined Experience to Work for You
Whether you are seeking relocation with a child or wish to contest relocation, we can protect your legal rights and interests. Understanding the assessment process involved with a relocation determination requires an analysis of the factual circumstances unique to each family. It is essential to address the child’s best interests at the evidentiary hearing or nonjury trial. At Alba & Straile PLLC, we pride ourselves on being results-driven and committed to our clients with compassion, attention to detail, and ease of attorney accessibility. Our goal is to provide our clients with the sound legal representation necessary to effectively and efficiently address all of their relocation-related legal needs. We represent clients in Alachua, Lake, Marion, and the surrounding counties in Florida. Contact Alba & Straile PLLC at (352) 371-9141 for a no-obligation consultation today.