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What is the Florida’s Relocation Statute?

Tampa family law attorneys are often questioned about Florida’s Relocation Statute because parents want to quickly move because of job opportunities, to be closer to their family, etc.  The Relocation Statute is codified by Florida Statute Section 61.13001.  Tampa family law attorneys are often confronted with difficult situations under this statute because they are forced to pass up many opportunities to ensure compliance with the Relocation Statute.  We have seen Courts overturn relocations because the parties failed to strictly comply with the terms of the Relocation Statute.

First and foremost, it is worth going through the specifics of what the Relocation Statute governs.  Tampa family law attorneys routinely review this Relocation Statute because of the specifics required.  It governs any change in the principal residence of a parent from their principal address listed on the last Order.  The move must be for greater than fifty (50) miles and must be for at least sixty (60) consecutive days.  There is also a provision in the Statute that provides the consecutive days “not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.”  Here, the Relocation Statute basically requires a parent to have some actual intent to relocate rather than just a temporary move.

Secondly, the Relocation Statute permits the parties to agree to the relocation.  It requires the agreement be in writing and the following:

a)      reflect the consent to the relocation;

b)      provides for access or time-sharing for the non-relocating parent and any other person entitled to time sharing; and

c)       describes the transportation agreements relating to time-sharing.

It is absolutely critical any agreement concerning relocation meet the above-referenced requirements, otherwise the agreement will likely be found unenforceable despite the clear intent of the parties.

If there a previous Order concerning time sharing, the parties must seek ratification of the agreement by the Court without an evidentiary hearing, unless one is requested by one of the parties.  The parties have ten (10) days to object.  If neither party objects, “it shall be presumed that the relocation is in the bester interest of the child” and the agreement will be ratified without a hearing.

Thirdly, if the parties cannot agree to a relocation, one party can petition the court to relocate the children.  The Relocation Statute provides very specific requirements for a Statute, I strongly recommend reviewing the specifics of the Relocation Statute, they can be found in (3)(a)(1)-(7).  We have provided a link to the entire Relocation Statute, here.  Ultimately, this petition will be set for a hearing unless the other party agrees to the relocation after the filing of the petition.  These actions can become very difficult and lengthy as the party opposing the relocation often very aggressively attempts to prevent the relocation for fear they will lose contact with the child.

It is also worth noting that the relocating the child without permission of the court or the other party has serious implications including potential contempt charges and it being a factor in any future modification or relocation actions.   The factors, the Court must consider in determining whether to grant or permit the relocation are as follows:

(a) The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent or other person proposing to relocate with the child and with the nonrelocating parent, other persons, siblings, half-siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life.

(b) The age and developmental stage of the child, the needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child.

(c) The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating parent or other person and the child through substitute arrangements that take into consideration the logistics of contact, access, and time-sharing, as well as the financial circumstances of the parties; whether those factors are sufficient to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the child and the nonrelocating parent or other person; and the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent or other person once he or she is out of the jurisdiction of the court.

(d) The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.

(e) Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the parent or other person seeking the relocation and the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefits or educational opportunities.

(f) The reasons each parent or other person is seeking or opposing the relocation.

(g) The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent or other person and whether the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic circumstances of the parent or other person seeking relocation of the child.

(h) That the relocation is sought in good faith and the extent to which the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the parent or other person seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and marital property and marital debt obligations.

(i) The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other person if the relocation occurs.

(j) A history of substance abuse or domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28 or which meets the criteria of s. 39.806(1)(d) by either parent, including a consideration of the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation.

(k) Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child or as set forth in s. 61.13.

Ultimately, it is very similar to the factors used by the Court when making a determination considering time sharing/custody.  Fortunately, the Relocation Statute provides Tampa family law attorneys a wide range of issues to argue to the court at your hearing on your behalf within the specifics of the Relocation Statute.

We strongly recommend parties when considering relocation issues to also focus on transportation issues.  More often than not, transportation costs and issues quickly arise into much large issues than anyone initially believed.  Many Tampa family law attorneys have witnessed otherwise suitable agreements fall apart because of transportation costs.  Unfortunately, the Relocation Statute does not provide a tremendous amount of direction towards these issues.  It is incredibly frustrating as someone, who routinely handles these matters, to witness a significant breakdown in a relocation agreement because of transportation issues.

If you or someone you know is going through relocation issues and/or has questions concerning Florida’s Relocation Statute, contact the Tampa family law attorneys of Hackworth Law for a free case consultation.  We have handled many of these matters and gotten our clients positive results in these Relocation Statute matters.  We appreciate your time in looking through our blog.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to use our “contact us now” tab in the upper right hand corner of our website or use our new chatbox feature.  Thanks for your time.