October 29, 2022
Life doesn’t stop, even when you’re going through a divorce. Therefore, moving in the middle of your divorce proceedings may become necessary.
While it is possible to relocate with your kids during divorce proceedings, there are certain essential steps to take before you may legally do so. If you’re interested in relocating with your children before your divorce is finalized, talk to an experienced St.Petersburg family law lawyer immediately.
Can I Move out of State With My Kids Before My Divorce Is Finalized?
The simple answer to this question is “it depends.” Parents cannot move with their children without the other parent’s permission or court approval. Because divorces can be bitter and stressful, it might be difficult to successfully get approval from the other parent if you wish to move during your divorce.
If the non-relocating parent is unwilling to agree to the move, you can request permission from the court. Before finalizing a divorce, the court may grant a temporary order for relocation. Usually, the judge can then decide whether to make a temporary order permanent.
Going over options with your family law lawyer can provide the answers you need regarding relocation.
What Does Relocation Mean Under Florida Law?
Under Florida Law, relocation is defined as a parent moving 50 or more miles away from where they currently live for a minimum of 60 continuous days. Relocation must be permanent, as temporary relocations do not count.
Temporary relocation is often necessary for education, child healthcare, or vacation. These short-term relocations do not require court approval.
Florida law allows a parent to relocate with their minor children only if the other parent agrees or if the relocating parent files a petition with the court and obtains approval before relocating.
Relocating When Both Parents Agree
The relocating parent can directly approach the other parent to get approval from them without going to court. If the non-relocating parent agrees, both parties can draft and sign a written agreement detailing the terms of the move and the new custody arrangement.
In the agreement, parents should include:
- Express written consent from the non-relocating parent
- Details regarding the arrangement
- Information on how the parents plan to handle transportation between homes
Once both parents agree and formalize their contract, they can submit it to the court for approval. Doing so does not typically require parents to attend court proceedings.
If you don’t know how to create your agreement, ask a family law lawyer to do it properly.
Simply having the agreement in writing is not enough. Before the relocating parent can legally take the child, the court must formally approve the new arrangement.
Petition to Relocate
A petition to relocate formally asks the court for permission to move.
Your family law lawyer can help draft a petition with all the necessary information, including:
- Details of where the parent intends to relocate, including address and phone number
- A description of the new location
- The date of the intended relocation
- Reasons the parent wishes to relocate
- The proposed arrangement for the non-relocating parent to see their child
- The proposed plan for transporting the child to and from the parents’ homes
After the petition has been filed, the court can schedule a hearing, allowing both parents to argue their positions for or against the move.
If the court approves the relocation request, the parent can move. However, if the court denies the request, the parent is not allowed to relocate with the child.
How the Court Bases Its Decision to Approve or Deny Relocation
Family court judges generally use the child’s best interests standard when making tough decisions regarding minor children, including custody and relocation.
When determining whether relocation would be beneficial or appropriate, the judge weighs:
- The child’s age
- The child’s needs
- The child’s individual relationships with the relocating parent and the non-relocating parent
- How the move would impact the child’s relationship with the non-relocating parent
- The relocating parent’s motives for moving and the non-relocating parent’s reason for opposition
- The overall impact the move would have on the child
- Whether the relocation is necessary
- Whether the relocation would benefit the child
- Any other detail the court finds important to examine
A judge will never base their decisions on a child’s preferences. However, if the child is a bit older, the judge may consider their preferences when making decisions. While they cannot make determinations solely on the child’s wants, they can use this information in their assessment.
When the relocating parent files a petition for relocation with the court, they have the burden to prove the relocation would be in the child’s best interests. A family law attorney can help show the court the advantages of moving.
What Happens When a Parent Relocates Without the Court’s Consent?
When a parent moves without prior court approval, they could face serious consequences. The judge will use the move as one of the deciding factors when making critical determinations, and the relocating parent’s ability to get custody or visitation could be significantly affected.
It’s never a good idea when a parent disregards the parenting plan and takes matters into their own hands. If you’re looking to relocate, discuss your plans with a qualified family law lawyer.
Speak to a Skilled Family Law Attorney
Life happens, causing plans to change. Everyone understands this, including family law lawyers, which is why there is a clear path that parents can take to seek court approval to relocate during a divorce.
If you’re considering moving with your children during your divorce proceedings, consult with your divorce lawyer as soon as possible to discuss options and legal strategy.