Florida Statute 61.13001 governs a parents ability to relocate greater than 50 miles with a minor child. If you have a child subject to an existing Parenting Plan or court order, you must follow the requirements of this Statute prior to relocating more than 50 miles from the child's principal residence.
Does this mean you have to go to court to relocate with a child? Not necessarily. If you get the other parent to sign a stipulation along with a new timesharing schedule, you may file the original with the clerk and send an Order with copies of the documents to the judge. No court appearance will be required.
If the other parent will not sign a stipulation, then you must file a Petition to Relocate and serve it upon the other parent. If the other parent fails to respond with an Objection within 20 days, you may submit an Order allowing the relocation. Once that Order is signed, you can go. If an Objection is filed with the court, then a hearing must take place. The Parent seeking the relocation must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the relocation is in the best interest of the child.
Please note, if you move prior to receiving an Order by the court, your Petition may be denied on that basis alone. Additionally the court can consider your move a basis to modify the timesharing schedule to the benefit of the other parent, issue a pick up order for the child, issue an Order requiring you to return to the jurisdiction and to award the other parent attorney fees and costs.
If your child is not subject to any court Order or pending action, you may want to consider a few things before you relocate. Pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), Florida will be the Home State of the child for up to six months after you move to a new state. If you move out of state and the other parent files a court action, you may be forced to return to Florida. This can and has ended up costing parents more than if they had hired an attorney in the first place. Even if you move out of county, you may be forced to return to the jurisdiction.
So, what should you do if you want to move and your child is not subject to any existing court orders or actions? The best step is always to try to get the other parent to give authorization for the move in writing. If that parent will not sign authorization in writing, you may want to call Michael D. Fluke, P.A. today.