After your divorce was finalized, you may have expected your life to settle into some new normal routine. Maybe you even longed for some familiarity amid the strangeness of being single again, finding a new home and adjusting to child custody schedules.
If you still haven't found that peace in your life, you may be considering a major move, one that would take you away from your former spouse. Whatever the reason for relocating, when there are children involved, you may have a challenge.
Relocating with your ex's blessing
Your court-ordered custody agreement may have very clear stipulations for moving away with the children. The statutes for Florida consider relocation a move of longer than 60 days to a place that is 50 miles or more from where you live now. In other words, this is not a vacation or a temporary arrangement, but you plan to go for good.
If your co-parent consents to the move, the matter is as simple as presenting a signed agreement to the court detailing alterations to your time-sharing schedule and explaining if and how the children will travel between you and their other parent. If there is no agreement, the matter is more complicated.
The court requires you to notify your co-parent with a signed petition of your intention to move by truthfully describing the following:
- Where you are moving, including the address and phone number of the new residence, if known
- The date on which you expect to move
- Clear and specific reasons for your move
- Suggestions for a revised time-sharing schedule
- Proposal for transportation to facilitate this new schedule
Without the proposed time-sharing schedule and transportation options, the court will reject your petition. In addition, your notification must inform your ex of his or her deadline for objecting to the petition.
The court weighs in
Your co-parent may fight the relocation by requesting a restraining order to prevent you from leaving. Additionally, he or she will have to provide specific reasons for the objection and support those reasons with facts. In making its decision, the court will carefully weigh the following:
- The child's relationships with you and the other parent
- The age and needs of the child
- The degree to which the move will damage the bond with the non-relocating parent
- Any advantages the child will enjoy from the relocation
- Numerous other factors
There is no assumption of approval or denial until the court considers these factors, but the burden of proof is on you. You may wish to seek legal assistance since thorough preparation for the hearing to defend your desire to relocate will be of great benefit.