Fort Lauderdale Child Relocation Lawyer
Making sense of parental relocation restrictions
If you are under a custody agreement, you cannot just decide to move with your children. Once you have gone through the dissolution of marriage process and established a custody agreement, you are bound by law to obtain the other parent’s consent. Our experienced Fort Lauderdale child relocation lawyer at Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC counsels you regarding your options and responsibilities if you need to relocate.
Relocating with agreed consent
Typically, relocation restrictions affect the custodial parent — the parent with physical custody. Florida law requires a custodial parent who wants to move more than 50 miles away for greater than 60 days to notify the other, noncustodial, parent. If the parents agree, they must both file written notice with the court. This agreement typically includes the consent of both parties, modifications to the visitation schedule and consideration of any other impacts of the move. Because the court must put the best interests of the child first, it must approve the agreement to relocate.
Filing a petition to relocate
Not surprisingly, many parents may be reluctant to agree to losing regular access to their child. For this reason, many parents will not automatically agree to your relocation with your child. If the noncustodial parent disagrees with your move, the custodial parent must file a petition with the court to relocate. A petition to relocate is required to detail:
- The address of your new home
- The means of contact, such as a telephone number
- The specific reason for the request, such as a new job or involuntary relocation
- A proposal modifying the marital settlement agreement (MSA)
- Notice telling the noncustodial parent how to object and the consequences for failure to do so.
If the noncustodial parent objects, you need to prove to the court that this plan and the modifications to the visitation schedule in the MSA do not negatively affect the child. For out–of-state moves, an experienced divorce and relocation lawyer can counsel you as to how you can make your MSA long-distance friendly.
Factors Considered by the Courts in Relocation Cases
Courts can consider many different factors when deciding whether or not to give permission for a parent to move their child away from the other parent. Perhaps most importantly, the court will examine the reason you want to move. It must be a valid reason that will be in the best interests of the child. For example, moving for a new job or to be closer to family are common reasons for approved relocation. A court will not approve a move that it believes is simply intended to separate and isolate the child from their other parent.
Courts can also look at the following:
- How the move will affect the child’s education and community;
- Special needs of the child;
- The child’s past relationship with the noncustodial parent;
- Whether the noncustodial parent had regularly exercised their parenting and visitation rights;
- Any other factor that may demonstrate whether the move is in the best interests of the child.
An experienced relocation attorney will understand the factors considered in relocation determinations and can help you present your case to support your relocation request to the court.
Challenging a Relocation
If your child’s other parent wishes to relocate, it is understandable that you may want to stop them in order to best preserve a meaningful relationship with your child. However, a court will not prevent a relocation for q valid reason simply because you do not want your child to move. Instead, you must present arguments and evidence that show the relocation is not in the best interests of the child. An experienced lawyer will know how to question the other parent’s motives and demonstrate to the court that their stated reasons for moving are not valid or may be pretextual.
Consequences for Relocating without Permission
Because moving will interfere with the other parent’s relationship with your child, the court takes it very seriously if you do so without obtaining the proper legal permission first. If you move without notifying the other parent or without receiving permission from the parent or the court, you can face serious consequences.
For instance, the court can take the following actions:
- Hold you in contempt of court for violating a custody and visitation schedule, impose fines and jail time;
- Issue a court order that you return the child immediately on a temporary or permanent basis;
- Use your relocation as a factor when deciding whether or not to modify the custody or visitation order;
- Using it as a factor when deciding whether to approve a relocation request in the future;
- Order you to pay the attorney’s fees and court costs paid by the other parent to challenge the relocation.
In addition to the above actions, relocation without permission can even result in criminal charges in certain situations. Florida has a law against interference with child custody and, if you move, it will likely interfere with the rights of the other parent to see the child. Charges for custody interference can not only result in fines and possible jail time, but can also mean you will have a criminal conviction on your record. Such allegations can also have a significant effect on your custody rights in the future.
Call our Fort Lauderdale child relocation lawyer for a free parental relocation consultation
At Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, our experienced Fort Lauderdale parental & child relocation lawyer can advocate your case in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties for approval of your move. Our law firm is located in downtown Fort Lauderdale, north of Davie Boulevard. We are close to Broward Hospital and three blocks from the county courthouse. Call us today at 954.817.0402 or contact us online. Our office hours are 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. For your convenience, we offer Saturday appointments upon request.