How Child Custody Impacts Moving To A Different City

How Child Custody Impacts Moving To A Different City

While every divorce is a complicated matter, the situation is made even more complicated when children are involved. Unlike property, children, of course, cannot be divided. Furthermore, the child custody agreement (normally known as a Parenting Plan) that is reached during the initial divorce process can be altered under a variety of circumstances. A Parenting Plan will normally specify that the parties have shared parental responsibility over the children and will detail a time-sharing schedule the parties must follow. One of the circumstances that can lead to the altering of a Parenting Plan is called a relocation petition. Sometimes, one of theparents may need or wish to move with the children. Prior to this move being finalized, the parent needs to earn approval from the court system, absent an agreement of the parties. What factors are going to be considered by the court in a relocation action? In the State of Florida, there is a specific statute regarding relocation that a parent intending to move should study carefully.

The Distance of the Move

Without a doubt, one of the most important factors will be the distance of the move. The entire premise of earning approval deals with the impact this move will have on the visitation abilities of the non moving parent. A move across town will have very little impact on the other parent’s time-sharing rights; however, a move across the country is a different story. The shorter the move is, the more likely it is to be approved. It will clearly be significantly more difficult for parties to follow a time-sharing schedule wherein both parents spend substantial time with the children if the moving parent plans to move very far away. If the move is a long distance one, the non-moving parent is limited to summers and other school breaks to spend time with the child or children. The Court must consider this and other factors when deciding whether a relocation is in the child or children’s best interest(s).

It should be noted that a relocation is only necessary when a parent wishes to move more than 50 miles from their original residence. The 50 miles is calculated in a straight line, not by the distance it will take a parent to drive to ther other parent’s residence.

The Facilitation of Time-Sharing

The judge is going to examine how the parents have worked together to facilitate time-sharing because the judge does not want to approve a move that is happening solely to spite the other parent. If the parents have done a good job working together to make sure both parents are involved, the move is more likely to be approved. If time-sharing has been an issue for the parents, the move is less likely to be approved or granted by the court. Parents should work to make sure that both parents have ample time to spend with their children.

The Reason for the Move

Once the first two hurdles are cleared, the judge will examine the reasons for the move. The judge ultimately decides what he or she believes is in the best interests of the children. For example, if the move promises better schools for the kids or a higher paying job for the relocating parent, the move may be approved. In addition, a move to spend more time with family that requires help is also a common reason for a petition. The judge will act in the best interests of the child. For help getting a relocation petition granted, the parent should contact an experienced attorney for assistance. Relocation actions are some of the most difficult cases family attorneys handle. For that reason, it is advisable for the parents not to attempt to handle their matter on their own. It is in the party’s best interest to obtain legal representation in all family law matters, but especially in petitions to relocate. Another reason this is the case is because, at least in the State of Florida, certain deadlines must be complied with in accordance with the statute. A relocation can many times be granted or denied based on the failure or ability to follow the requirements specified in the statute.

Article updated October 15, 2020.

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