What are Florida’s Rules on Relocating as a Co-Parent?

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Let’s set the scene: it’s been a few years since you and your former spouse divorced. Your kids are growing up, and everything seems to be working as well as one could hope. Living fifteen minutes away from each other helps your children shuffle from one household to the other relatively easily; typically, you get two weeks with the kids and then you are off for two weeks. Seemingly out of the blue, your employer offers you a handsome bonus and pay raise to relocate two states away. To complicate matters, your employer hints that you need to accept the offer to continue your employment with the company. How do you proceed, knowing that the arrangement with your ex-spouse and kids has worked quite well?

You and Your Ex Could Agree to a New Time-Sharing Schedule

To avoid a potentially contentious and nasty court fight, you and your ex-spouse could conceivably write up a new agreement outlining how the two of you would care for your children. As long as the new agreement is in your children’s best interests, you should have no problem getting the agreement ratified by the court.

If You and Your Former Spouse Don’t Agree

Generally, you must file a petition to relocate with the Court in compliance with Florida’s Relocation Statute. In this petition, you must lay out where you wish to move, why, and when, in addition to proposing a new time-sharing arrangement as well as how the cost of that arrangement will be shared. You would also need to show, for example, that the relocation places the children in a school system and home that it is at least as good as, if not better than where they are currently situated. The burden of proof is on the petitioning parent to show that the relocation would be in the best interests of the children. Do NOT relocate without first getting approval from the court.
After the other parent is served the petition for relocation, he or she has 20 days to respond. If the other parent decides to respond, he or she must explain why the petition for relocation should not be granted. If a response isn’t filed within 20 days, the judge will likely approve the petition. If, however, the other spouse files a response, then you can expect a hearing within 30 days on a temporary relocation (separate motion required after petition) and 90 days to address the permanent relocation.

Conclusion

Let’s go back to our scenario from the intro to this blog. You decide to relocate, but your kids, who are 15 and 13, don’t want to leave their friends. Where do you go from there?

A wise first step could be to hire an experienced family law attorney with a track record of amicably settling these types of legal matters. While you may be tempted to fight tooth and nail to keep your children, that may not be the best for everyone in the long run. A family law firm like ours that focuses on minimizing conflict and promoting harmony even in difficult circumstances can be a huge help to you. Want to set up a completely confidential consultation with our legal team? Give us a call today at (954)-447-2580 to discuss your options.