The Relocation Battle
As the cost of living continues to climb in South Florida many families have decided to pack up and leave town for hopefully greener pastures. This is a very difficult decision for most families. It is even a greater struggle at times for divorced couples with minor children. Relocation is perhaps the most difficult area of family law. Often times the custodial parent has a very legitimate reason for her/his desire to relocate. Just as often the non custodial parent has just as legitimate a reason to insist the minor children not be removed from the area. He/she is actively involved in the children’s lives. It is difficult to ask a parent to consent to allowing his/her children to move away, most times to a location hundreds of miles away. Gone are the every other weekend visitations, school events, and watching the kids play sports. If however the custodial parent can no longer afford to live in South Florida and she/he has an opportunity to move to a city where she/he will have a better job, a cheaper cost of living and an all around better life, why shouldn’t she be able to better herself? You can certainly see the dilemma.
Ask most judges and they will tell you that these cases are the most difficult to resolve. Two loving parents, each wanting to be a part of their kids’ lives. Often times the custodial parent believes that because she/he has that designation, she/he has the right to move wherever she/he wants. That of course is not true. In the past several months I have seen a great number of relocation cases. The cost of living, housing prices and the general state of the economy are forcing many parents to look elsewhere. Unfortunately I have also seen an increase in parents simply moving away with their children, without advising the other parent. This method of self help is in violation of Florida law and harmful to the children.
Approximately one year ago Florida Statutes 61.13001 was enacted. It clearly spells out the requirements for a custodial parent seeking to relocate to a location at least 50 miles away. A parent must file a notice of intent to relocate stating where she/he is intending to move, the date of the intended move, the new phone number and the reason for the relocation. In addition a proposed revised visitation schedule must be included. Once received by the non custodial parent she/he has thirty days to file an objection with the court. If an objection is not timely filed there is a presumption that the non custodial parent is consenting to the move and it will be permitted. If an objection is timely filed, then the parent seeking to move must make application to the court for permission. It will then be the Court’s decision based upon a number of factors. The number one concern is the children’s best interests.
If you are considering a move I would strongly suggest you contact our family law attorneys to discuss your obligations under the law. If you have a former spouse seeking to move with your children, you should also speak to one of our experienced divorce attorneys in Weston, Pembroke Pines and Broward County.