After the end of a divorce proceeding and the issuance of an order awarding child custody, many residents of central Florida assume that the worst part of the process is over and that their lives will once again become stable. Unfortunately, life is uncertain, and future events can cause almost as much disruption as the divorce. One of the most troubling events is the relocation of the custodial parent and the child to another state.
A parental relocation is defined as one parent moving at least 50 miles from his or her residence. As with most aspects of a divorce, the parents and anyone else with a legal right to spend time with the child can negotiate an agreement and file it with the court. The agreement will then have the force of a court order. But if the parents cannot negotiate such an agreement, the party seeking relocation must bring a motion before the court.
The motion must state the reasons for the relocation and provide an explanation of how the relocation will affect the child. The petition must also provide the location of the new residence. If one of the reasons for the requested move is a written job offer, the written offer must be attached to the petition. The petition must also contain a proposal for visitation and time sharing after the move is completed. The petition for relocation must be served on the other parent and on any other person entitled to access to the child.
If the custodial parent relocates and takes the child, the failure to follow the procedures to obtain court approval can subject the parent to a potential contempt of court charge and other penalties. One of the most severe penalties is the potential for losing custody of the child.
Facing the potential relocation of the custodial parent can be traumatic for everyone involved – both parents and the child. For this reason, the possibility of such a change may be a good reason to consult an experienced family law attorney for advice.