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What to Know About Child Custody and Relocation in Florida

When a couple with children gets divorced, the parents must decide on child custody arrangements that specify both legal and physical custody. In most cases, this involves the parents sharing physical custody or one parent having primary custody while the other has regular visitation rights.

Regardless of the specifics, a child custody agreement often means the two divorcing parents must live within a reasonable distance of one another so that the children can spend time at both households. But what happens if one parent wishes to move a considerable distance away from the other?

Florida’s statutes define relocation as a move of 50 miles or more from an individual’s previous primary residence for a period of 60 days or more. Thus, it would not be considered a relocation if a parent took a three-week vacation more than 50 miles away from home.

According to state law, the parent seeking the move must file a petition with a family law court and serve the other parent with the petition. That parent then has 20 days to respond with a written reason for why the relocation should not be allowed. Following the response, the court schedules a hearing where both parties may present their cases, usually with the assistance of their attorneys.

A failure to respond to a relocation petition could mean the court approves the move without a hearing.

What does the court consider in relocation matters?

When it comes to any child custody matter, a court always looks first at what is in the best interests of the children in question. A judge is unlikely to approve any relocation petition that does not appear to meet this standard. For example, if the parent seeking the move does not have a good reason to do so, such as a job opportunity or to be closer to family, a court will be hesitant to allow him or her to relocate a significant distance away from the children’s other parent.

For further guidance on child custody and relocation in Florida, speak with an experienced Florida attorney at Oberliesen & Henderson. Call our Shalimar office at 850-634-3785 or contact us online today.

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