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Child Custody When One Parent Moves Away

The Spence Law Firm  June 4, 2024

In Florida, child custody arrangements are carefully designed to serve the best interest of the child, often involving regular contact with both parents. When one parent plans to move a significant distance away, this established arrangement gets disrupted, necessitating a modification to the custody order.  

For any move that affects the child’s ability to maintain their established schedule with the other parent, Florida law requires specific procedures to be followed. 

Whether you’re considering moving or recently learned that your co-parent is planning to move, please consult a family law attorney. Understanding your rights and options will help you prepare for future legal procedures and any dispute that may arise. If you’re in or near Orlando, Florida, contact us at The Spence Law Firm to schedule a free consultation.  

How Does Child Custody Work When One Parent Moves Away?

When a child relocates with a parent, the court must evaluate whether the move aligns with the child’s best interests. The relocating parent must typically provide a detailed plan outlining how they intend to maintain the child's relationship with the non-custodial parent, often including modified visitation schedules or virtual communication arrangements. The court's primary focus remains on ensuring the child’s stability and well-being throughout the transition. 

On the other hand, when the non-custodial parent moves away, the existing visitation schedule may no longer be practical, requiring adjustments to allow the child to maintain a meaningful relationship with that parent. This might involve longer, less frequent visits, such as extended summer vacations or alternating holiday breaks.

Also, the court may order make-up time or increased virtual contact to compensate for the reduced physical presence. Throughout this process, the objective is to balance the child's need for stability while preserving the essential bond with the non-custodial parent. 

Legal Requirements for Relocating With a Child

Reasonable Notification 

Before a move, the relocating parent must notify the other parent. This notification must be in writing and provided at least 60 days before the planned move. It should include details such as the location of the new residence, the reason for the relocation, and a proposed new time-sharing schedule. This notification allows the non-relocating parent ample time to respond or contest the move. 

Filing a Petition for Relocation 

If the other parent does not consent to the relocation, the moving parent must file a petition to relocate with the court. The petition must demonstrate that the move is in the best interest of the child and outline the benefits of the move, both for the parent and the child. It should also include a proposed post-relocation parenting plan. 

Factors Considered by the Court

When evaluating a relocation petition, the court will consider several factors to determine whether the move serves the child’s best interests. These factors include: 

  • The impact on the child’s relationship with both parents: The court examines how the move will affect the child’s relationship with the non-relocating parent and whether the proposed time-sharing schedule maintains meaningful involvement from both parents. 

  • The child’s age, developmental stage, and needs: The move must consider the child's emotional, educational, and social development. 

  • The reasons for moving: The relocating parent must show that the move is for a legitimate purpose, such as a job opportunity or family support, rather than to interfere with the child's relationship with the other parent. 

  • Economic benefits: The court will consider the financial advantages of the move, including improved living conditions and educational opportunities for the child. 

  • Feasibility of maintaining the relationship: Whether alternative arrangements, like longer visitations or technology-mediated communications, can sustain the child’s bond with the non-relocating parent. 

How to Prove the Move Is Beneficial for Your Child

To demonstrate that the move is beneficial for your child, it is crucial to provide comprehensive evidence that outlines the advantages the relocation will bring. This may include improved educational opportunities, better living conditions, or access to superior medical care. Showing that the new location has a strong supportive community network can enhance these benefits even further. 

Each of these factors should be elaborated upon with concrete details, such as school ratings, descriptions of the new home environment, or testimonials from potential community members.  

Moreover, the court will consider how well the proposed relocation plan supports the child's relationship with the non-relocating parent. It's essential to propose a detailed post-relocation parenting plan that includes provisions for maintaining regular communication and visitation, whether through extended summer visits, holiday schedules, or virtual meetings.  

Frequently Asked Questions

What if both parents agree on the relocation? 

If you and the other parent agree to the relocation, you can submit a written agreement to the court. As long as the agreement is in the child's best interests, the court is likely to approve it without the need for a hearing. 

Can the court deny the relocation? 

Yes, the court can deny a relocation if it determines that the move is not in the child's best interest or if the relocating parent fails to meet legal requirements. 

How can a lawyer help with relocation cases? 

A lawyer can help by preparing and submitting the necessary legal documents, presenting a strong case to the court, and negotiating modifications to the parenting plan to minimize disruptions to the child's life. They can also advise you on the legal requirements and help you gather evidence to support your relocation petition. 

Find the Right Representation

Handling child custody modifications due to relocation requires a delicate balance between safeguarding parental rights and prioritizing the child's best interests. An experienced family law attorney can provide invaluable support in these cases.  

At The Spence Law Firm, we work hard to protect your rights and will help you pursue a favorable outcome that supports your child’s overall well-being. We proudly serve clients in Orlando, Florida, and the surrounding areas, including the communities of Oak Ridge, Pine Hills, Lockhart, Maitland, Azalea Park, Osceola County, Lake County, and Seminole County. We offer steadfast support in all family law issues. Call us to schedule a free consultation today.