More than ever, Americans are relocating not just within their state, but also across the country and around the world. Increased mobility is relatively easy for single individuals or married couples who are interested in seeing more of the world or who need to move for a new job. However, it can be difficult for divorced parents to exercise this same level of freedom.
Florida has strict laws when it comes to moving children out of the state and away from their noncustodial parents. This is because custody laws are premised on the idea that children tend to develop better when they have access to both parents. Although there are certainly exceptions to this rule, children usually form strong bonds with both of their parents, and restricting access to one can be detrimental.
With this in mind, Florida law does not allow one parent to relocate without the consent of the other. If the noncustodial parent refuses to give that consent, the other parent must petition the court to grant the move.
Florida’s restriction does not apply to all moves — only those that would involve a relocation of more than 50 miles for a period longer than 60 days. In those situations, the custodial parent must notify the other of the potential move. If both parents agree, they must file a joint written agreement with the court that acknowledges their consent. If the other parent does not agree, the custodial parent is required to file a petition with the court for permission to relocate.
In determining whether or not to grant the relocation, courts look at what would be in the best interest of the child, and not necessarily the parents. If any evidence suggests that the child would be harmed by the move, a court is unlikely to grant permission. If, however, the move would benefit the child in some way, such as providing access to better schools or a network of family members, the court would be more likely to grant an approval.
If you have questions about child custody arrangements in Florida, consult the dedicated family law and divorce attorneys at the Law Office of K. Dean Kantaras.