Divorced Parents Relocation With Their Children: What to Do
Orlando Divorced Parent Relocation Lawyer Eduardo J. Mejias
Practicing Exclusively Family Law Since 2011
What Divorced Parents With Children Should Do Before Relocating
Custodial parents planning to move more than fifty miles from where they live with their children must file a notice of relocation with their county's family court. The non-custodial parents can also file with the court a written objection to their children's relocation within thirty days of being served the notice. See also: Divorced Parents Relocation Conflicts.
What to Do and Not Do When Relocating With Your Children After a Divorce
Within Florida family law, cases of relocation of divorced parents with their children present the biggest gap between public perception and the controlling statute. This gap stems from the recency of the new statutory law enactments dealing with the relocation of the custodial parent with the children to a new town, state or country.
Many of my divorced clients know some of the fundamental concepts of divorce, alimony, child support and child custody. But they admit ignorance when they ask me about the possibility of relocating with their children. I then explain to them Section 61.13001, Florida Statutes, which governs the relocation of divorced parents. To the readers I offer this list of three things to do and three things not to do.
As your divorce attorney, I urge you to follow these rules for custodial divorced parents relocation:
Do Prepare This For the Family Court
(1) The Benefits of a New Job
Perform a cost-benefit analysis of your proposed relocation. If a new job awaits you at your desired destination, obtain a precise income figure. Section 61.13001(7)(e) and (g) and list the economic and employment benefits of the proposed move as factors that the trial court must consider. Furthermore, if you or your current spouse are starting a job in the new town, a job offer must be reduced to writing, and included in the petition for relocation as shown in Section 61.13001, Florida Statutes.
(2) Prepare a New Time Sharing Plan
Draft a new proposed time-sharing plan for your children and the other parent that will be implemented if the trial court grants your petition. Section 61.13001(7)(c), Florida Statutes lists as another factor: “[T]he feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent . . . and the child.” Essentially, the more your proposed move will compromise your children’s relationship with your ex-spouse, the less likely your petition will be granted. While a court does not require that the other parent’s time with the children remain the same (since this will be impossible in a typical relocation), the ability of your ex-spouse to sustain a “meaningful relationship” with them is critical.
Do not be dismissive of the bond of your ex-spouse with your children. Instead, think of ways to help sustain it after the move. Also, just like with the job offer, you must include in your petition the actual proposed schedule and an offer to allocate travel expenses. See Section 61.13001(7)(c), Florida Statutes.
(3) A Statement of Preferences From the Children
Consider having your teen children voice to the judge their preference for moving. While Florida law does not have a minimum age for children testifying, most family law judges will want to hear from children between 13 and 17. In fact, Section 61.13001(7)(d), Florida Statutes lists the children’s preferences as a factor. Keep in mind however, that the children’s preferences cannot be the determining factor, just one factor among several.
Do Not Do or Expect These Things
(1) Do Not Make The Separation of the Children From Your Ex-Spouse a Reason for the Move
Do not purposely antagonize your ex-spouse during this process. Actually, this advice applies for all contested custody issues, but particularly for relocation cases. I advise my clients that they cannot give the impression that they are moving just to create more distance between their children and their ex-spouses. If a family law judge senses this, your petition is doomed. Two of the factors in the above-cited statute address whether you are moving for good-faith reasons. Obviously, sticking it to your ex is not a good-faith reason.
(2) Do Not Expect a Resolution that is Both Quick and Final
The divorced parents relocation statutes allows the trial court to conduct a hearing within 30 days of the filing of the petition, and even grant a temporary relocation. But you will still be required to return to Florida for a final hearing several months later. While it seems counter-intuitive to require a second hearing, the statute expressly calls for it. You must create a long-term plan that takes this into account.
(3) Do Not Put All of Your Eggs in the Relocation Basket
Section 61.13001, Florida Statutes places the burden of proof on the moving party to demonstrate why the move is in the best interest of the children, by a preponderance of the evidence. No presumption exists in your favor, even if you want to move for good-faith reasons. Therefore, in addition to a long-term plan for the move, you need a “Plan B” in the event that your petition for relocation is denied.
How We Can Help
If you’re interested in moving with your children more than fifty miles from your current residence, or in objecting to the move of your ex-spouse I encourage you to call AAA Family Law at 407-260-6001 and schedule your initial consultation.
A this consultation you will explain your situation and what you would like to accomplish and I will outline what can be legally done to protect your interests and those of your children. I will also inform you of our flat retainer fee before signing any contract or making any payment.
Our attorney retainer fees for a petition for relocation range between $2,400 and $3,600 depending on the complexity of the case. See Family Lawyer Retainer Fees for additional information on the costs of our services.
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