Florida Appeals Court Nixes Father’s Relocation of Children to New Jersey

A father’s desired move with his two sons from Florida to New Jersey fell flat because, although he persuaded a trial court judge to OK the relocation, the trial court order failed to make findings that the move benefited the children. The 5th District Court of Appeal reversed the ruling, stating that the evidence in the case demonstrated a move in the best interest of the father, not the children.

After the husband and wife┬áseparated early in 2013, a trial court entered an order establishing the pair’s equal time-sharing of their two children. A few months later, the husband sought the court’s permission to relocate, with the children, to New Jersey, so that he could continue pursuing his pharmacy degree. The husband stated that the move was in the children’s best interest because he could provide the children with an excellent home and education in New Jersey, and that the completion of his pharmacy degree would greatly increase his earning potential and ability to provide for the children.

Both parents agreed to allow the court consider a custodial evaluation report prepared by a psychologist. The doctor advised against moving the children away from their Brevard County home, where they’d lived their entire lives. Nevertheless, the trial court sided with the husband and approved the move. The court found that, despite the extraordinarily contentious nature of the couple’s divorce, the husband sought the relocation “in good faith.” The court did not find, however, that the move would be in the best interest of the children.

The lack of a ruling on the best interest of the children would prove to be the undoing for the husband’s desired move. The 5th DCA sided with the wife on appeal, concluding that the evidence before the trial court demonstrated a move that was clearly in the father’s best interest, but was wholly lacking in proof about the best interest of the couple’s two boys. Problems with the trial court’s order include an absence of a findings that the boys would enjoy a superior education or quality of life in North Jersey as opposed to Brevard County, as well as a failure to address the wife’s testimony stating that moving from Florida would emotionally harm the children.

The court also noted that one of the primary benefits that the children would receive as a result of permitting the move (arising from their father’s increased earning potential) was at least three and one-half years away. The appeals court also displayed some skepticism about the husband’s ability to deliver on his lofty promises, pointing out that the man already had two bachelor’s degrees, one in microbiology and one in international finance, but had only been able to secure a $9.40-per-hour job with his existing education.

For most parents, the most important people in their lives are their children. This can bring out both the best and the worst in couples going through the pain of divorce. For advice and representation that is both sensitive and aggressive, based upon your family’s needs, consult the South Florida family law attorneys of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. Our attorneys can give you the thoughtful and determined assistance necessary to navigate this difficult process.

Contact us online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

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