Florida's Relocation Statute Limits Custodial Parents Right to Move
Florida's Relocation Statute - Florida Statute 61.13001 (enacted on October 1, 2006) - has significantly restricted the right of the custodial parent (now known as majority time share parent) to move more than 50 miles away from the non-custodial parent's home. Before the statute was passed, a custodial parent could move almost anywhere in Florida without court permission.
Relocation by 50 Miles Requires Court Consent
"Relocation" was previously interpreted by the courts to mean permanently moving out of state. But, the Florida legislature has now redefined the term as moving 50 miles or more from the other parent's residence. A custodial parent, who seeks to move more than 50 miles away from the other parent's residence is now required to serve a Notice of Intent to Relocate upon the other parent and prove, by detailed information, why relocation should be granted.
Non-Custodial Parent can Respond and Request a Hearing
The non-custodial parent has the right to file a written response within 30 days, but more importantly has the right to an evidentiary hearing at which he/she can have witnesses testify and can introduce documents into evidence. The Notice must include the following information:
- A description of the neighborhood and area
- The address of the intended new residence
- The phone number of the intended new residence
- The date of the intended move or proposed relocation
- The reasons for relocation.
- If one reason is based upon a written job offer, the offer must be attached
- A proposed visitation schedule, and transportation arrangements
Custodial Parents Need Significant Reason to Move
It may not be sufficient for a custodial parent to show only that the planned move would provide a "support system" (family, friends, etc.) to her/him or the children. Similarly, it may not enough to show that a higher paying job is available in the planned location. However the more factors which can be provided to the court, including additional factors such as offering substitute visitation and a contribution toward travel costs for the other parent, may suffice. Whether the non-custodial parent has been an active parent is also a significant factor. A difficult situation exists when a non-custodial parent has been active with the children, but the employer of the custodial parent or her/his new spouse requires a transfer to another state. In sum, there is usually no easy way to determine in advance whether a court will grant relocation. Case evaluation, preparation, and presentation are essential in relocation cases.
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