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Relocating with Children After Divorce—How Does It Work?

David Scott, P.A. Aug. 22, 2022

Relocating is hard enough under any circumstance—renting U-Hauls, changing the kids’ schools, taking care of all the legal documentation. There are whole worlds of things that you have to consider with any major move. When children and ex-spouses are involved, though, things get even more complicated.

There are countless reasons why a parent may want to relocate with his or her children following a divorce, and it’s important to know that relocation as a newly single parent is certainly possible—all it takes is a couple of extra steps. Luckily, knowledgeable family attorneys exist in the Sunshine State who will be able to assist you every step of the way.

Following a divorce, if you intend to move with your children more than 50 miles away from your ex-spouse for more than 60 consecutive days, Florida law requires that you notify the court prior to making the move. Depending on a number of circumstances, the court has the power to approve or deny your move.

If Both Parents Agree

If you and your spouse have recently divorced and you’re thinking of relocating with your kids, there are plenty of new considerations you now have to make.

Is your ex-spouse planning on staying behind? Then your relocation must be approved by the court. If your ex agrees to the move and all the stipulations that come with it, all you have to do is submit a written agreement to the court. In that agreement, you will have to identify the following:

• Any impact that the move will have on visitation rights and how those changes will be handled, including whether or not the children’s time with the noncustodial parent will be divided differently (e.g., instead of spending weekends together, they will start spending summers together)
• How transportation for the noncustodial parent to see his or her children will be handled by both parents
This agreement will also need to be approved by anyone else who has visitation rights, including grandparents, aunts and uncles, and so on.

If all involved parties agree to the move, chances are that the court will approve your move and you will be given the green light to go ahead with your plans.

If One Parent Disagrees

If, however, your ex-spouse does not agree to cooperate, you will have to petition the other parent and have him or her served by the court. In the petition, you will have to include your plan for the relocation, including:

• The date of the move
• The reason for the move
• A proposal outlining how the noncustodial parent’s role, responsibilities, visitation rights, and transportation arrangements would change
• All important information about the new location, including all contact information

The petition must also include a notice for the noncustodial parent, notifying him that he or she has a right to object to this petition. If the parent objects, a trial may ensue.

After the necessary documents have been filed with the court, the court will make a decision. The presiding judge will base their decision on a variety of factors but ultimately will make a decision based on what they believe is in the best interest of the child. 

Why This Process Is so Important

Because Florida courts take child welfare very seriously, this matter should not be taken lightly. Failure to follow these procedures could result in serious penalties, including the temporary revocation of your parental rights. To avoid these consequences, make sure that you follow all of the necessary steps before you move.
A knowledgeable attorney will be able to help you protect your and your children’s best interests. If you have any questions about how to go about filing your written agreement or your petition to relocate, don’t hesitate to contact us today.