Not Flying Solo
At first glance, it may seem like a Hollywood script. You recently got divorced and believe you can start fresh by changing your scenery. Perhaps you are planning a long trip to an exotic locale. Maybe you are relocating cross-country for a new job or romance. However, unlike the protagonist in Eat, Pray, Love, you are not flying solo — you are a custodial parent, relocating with your children.
Among the potentially quarrelsome issues in a Florida divorce are relocation agreements. A custodial parent seeking to move more than 50 miles away, for longer than two months, is required to notify the other parent before moving.
If the court thinks it is in the child’s best interests, the court may agree to your move. If the court believes the move may be emotionally harmful for the child, or that you are depriving the non-custodial parent of visitations in bad faith, it might deny your request. Even if your ex agrees to your move, your relocation agreement still requires court approval.
A successful petition for approval of a relocation agreement should evidence:
- The non-custodial parent’s consent
- Arrangements you have made for visitations
- Approval by other family members with visitation rights, including grandparents
If your ex does not agree to your relocation, you must convince the court otherwise. Several factors that the court might consider include:
- Your motivations for relocating, such as better financial or educational prospects
- How the move will affect your child’s emotional and physical growth, with consideration for any special needs
- Your ex’s reasons for not agreeing to the relocation
- Whether your ex is currently meeting his or her custody and support obligations
- Whether you can maintain the non-custodial parent’s relationship with your child by different visitation arrangements
The court has discretion to order a schedule of time-sharing and communication by Skype or phone, as well as other arrangements that allow your child regular and meaningful contact with the non-relocating parent. If it is the best interest of the child, and alternative visitation arrangements are feasible for the non-relocating parent, the court may allow you to relocate.
For everyone’s sake, it is crucial to arrange alternative visitations that function well. Speak to our experienced Florida divorce attorney, Jennifer T. Miller-Morse, to get sound legal guidance for your relocation plan.