In the military, relocations are a way of life for most servicemembers and their families. This way of life presents special challenges when the military servicemember is divorced.
Under Florida law, the court has to approve any time when a parent moves his or her residence by more than 50 miles. This law even applies when the servicemember does not have majority time-sharing with the child. In other words, even if the servicember only has the child on weekends, he or she is still required to petition the court for an order allowing the relocation.
We understand that military servicemembers frequently face relocations that will affect their parenting plan. In many cases, we can help servicemembers and spouses avoid the relocation case altogether, by providing a long-distance time-sharing schedule within the parenting plan. And, if your last attorney did not take this contingency into account, we can help you when the time comes, whether than means negotiating the change or presenting your case to the court.
We have the tools to provide expert advice to clients facing relocation cases. Trust us to protect your rights and advocate for the best interests of your children and family.
Florida Relocation Law
There is no presumption regarding whether a parent should be permitted to relocate his or her residence. It is incumbent on the parent seeking relocate to establish initially that the proposed relocation serves the best interests of the children. If that initial burden is met, the burden shifts to the other parent to demonstrate that the proposed relocation is not in the best interest of the children.
While the parties prepare for their final hearing in a relocation case, the Court is permitted to grant the relocation on a temporary basis. The law provides for an expedited temporary hearing I relocation cases. The party seeking relocation can also request an expedited final hearing.
Many times, pro se parties and inexperienced counsel will fail to satisfy the procedural requirements for seeking relocation. If a party attempts to relocate without following the statutory procedure, the Court may hold that party in contempt, compel the return of the child, and hold the unauthorized move against the party that attempted to relocate. The relocation pleading itself has to meet certain specific statutory requirements. A party opposing the proposed relocation must submit an objection and sworn pleading opposing relocation petition. If the objection is not procedurally proper or timely filed, there is a presumption that the relocation should be permitted. If your counsel make a mistake, the entire case could be lost.
Florida Relocation Factors
When deciding a relocation case, the Court must consider the following statutory factors:
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 non-relocating parent, other persons, siblings, half-siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life.
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.
The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent 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 non-relocating parent; and the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent once he or she is out of the jurisdiction of the court.
The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.
Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the parent seeking the relocation and the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefits or educational opportunities.
The reasons each parent is seeking or opposing the relocation.
The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent and whether the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic circumstances of the parent seeking relocation of the child.
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 seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and marital property and marital debt obligations.
The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other person if the relocation occurs.
A history of substance abuse or domestic violence, including a consideration of the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation.
Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child or as set forth in Section 61.13.
If you are facing a relocation case in a military divorce or other Florida family case, please schedule a consultation and learn about how our strategic, expert advocacy could help you.
Related Military Divorce Information: Military Survivors Benefit Plan