When parents separate and decide to provide for their child through separate households, it can contribute to many negative effects in the child. It is important for children to have stable lives during their childhood so that they can develop properly. It is for this reason that Florida family courts take child relocation very seriously.
Divorce Attorneys Experienced in Child Relocations Issues
When a custodial parent (the parent that is given custody of a child by a court after a separation or divorce) decides to move the child to a different city, or relocate, it can disrupt the visitation rights of the other parent. It may also dampen the relationship with the child and the noncustodial parent. Florida law requires that custodial parents contact the noncustodial parents to gain consent. If both parents approve of the move, they will have to submit a written statement to the court that outlines the consent of both parents (including the consent of family members who may have visitation rights such as grandparents and godparents), updated visitation arrangements (including modes of transportation and costs), and other applicable information.
In most cases, noncustodial parents are granted greater time with the child during special school breaks and holidays. After the relocation proposal is submitted and approved by both parents, the court will grant the custodial parent with the explicit permission to move.
When Parents Disagree on Child Relocation
All child relocation cases are not so simple. Often, parents are not OK with the custodial parent relocating the child. They may have bitter tensions with the custodial parent or they may be concerned about the safety and well-being of the child. When these reservations are present, the overall process of child relocation can become long and difficult.
The custodial parent has to file a petition to relocate with the court that includes basic information such as:
- Contact information of the new home
- Desired date of relocation
- Purpose for moving
- Co-parenting plan (including visitation schedules, transportation options and costs)
- A letter to the noncustodial parent that outlines how he/she should object to the petition
If the noncustodial parent objects to the move, it is his/her responsibility to formally respond to the petition. If an objection is made, the case will be moved to a hearing or go to trial where a judge will make the final decision. If the noncustodial parent makes no objection to the petition however, and there are no evidences of harm to the child, the judge will approve and permit the child relocation.
Determining Factors in Florida Child Relocation Cases
When determining to permit a custodial parent to relocate a child, many factors are considered. The top priority is to protect the child’s health and safety, emotional and developmental needs, overall happiness. Florida courts like to ensure that a child’s best interest will be served. They recognize that stability is a significant factor in a child’s life and will reject a relocation proposal if any of the following are indicated or proven:
- Past or current domestic abuse within the home
- Past or current child neglect, child abuse and/or molestation
- Inadequate parental concern for the child’s scholastic and health needs
Courts may also consider:
- If the relocation will grant more resources and opportunities to the child and parent
- If the move will hinder the child’s growth and development
- The reason(s) that the noncustodial parent objects
- The child’s feelings toward the move
- Co-parenting relations
- The effect that the move may have on the noncustodial parent’s relationship with the child
Family Lawyers in Gainesville, FL
Child relocation can be scary. As a custodial parent, you may believe that a move will enhance the life of your child. As a noncustodial parent, you may fear that a sudden move will stunt your child’s development. You may be concerned about the child’s health and safety. Or, you may be worried that you will be losing access to your child. At the Law Office of Silverman, Vorhis & Mack, our family and parenting plan attorneys have heard it all. Our attorneys are well-versed in Florida family law litigation. Contact us today to ensure that your child’s rights, and your rights to your child, are protected.