Florida Court Explains Requirements for Parental Relocation

Parents who share custody of a child will often live in the same geographic area, which makes custody exchanges relatively easy. It is not uncommon, though, for one parent to wish to relocate to another city and to take their children with them. While a parent has the right to ask the court to allow them to relocate, such a request should not be granted unless the parent shows that relocation would be in the child’s best interest. As demonstrated in a recent Florida ruling, if a court allows for relocation absent such a showing, their order may be overturned. If you have questions about relocation in the context of custody, it is smart to speak with a Miami child custody attorney.

Case Setting

It is alleged that the mother and the father, who resided in Nassau County, Florida, had established paternity and a timesharing schedule, with the mother having majority timesharing. The mother recently married and her husband, a member of the U.S. Navy, received orders transferring him to Cape Canaveral, Florida, for approximately two years. The mother filed an expedited temporary petition for parental relocation, seeking to move to Cape Canaveral with the children. The father objected to the relocation.

It is reported that at the evidentiary hearing, the mother testified about her desire to be with her new husband and baby, but she offered no evidence supporting the relocation’s best interest for the children. The father, however, presented evidence of his active involvement with the children and the strong family support system in the area. The trial court orally granted the mother’s temporary motion without stating findings, and a written order followed, noting the mother’s good faith in filing the petition. The father appealed.

Requirements for Parental Relocation in Florida

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. In doing so, the court considered the statutory requirements for parental relocation under Florida law. It noted that the trial court must evaluate various factors to determine if a relocation was in the best interest for the children. Further, it explained that the burden of proof falls on the relocating parent to demonstrate by a preponderance of evidence that relocation serves the children’s best interests.

In the subject case, however, the mother failed to provide sufficient evidence supporting the relocation’s benefits for the children. Her testimony mainly focused on her desire to be with her new family but lacked evidence regarding the children’s well-being, education, or the post-relocation timesharing plan. Additionally, her petition did not comply with statutory pleading requirements.

Thus, the trial court’s order granting the mother’s temporary petition was deemed legally insufficient and unsupported by competent, substantial evidence. As a result, the court reversed the trial court’s decision, vacated the order granting the temporary petition, and remanded the case solely for the trial court to enter an order denying the mother’s temporary petition for parental relocation.

Meet with an Assertive Miami Attorney

The Florida courts have the authority to allow parents to relocate with their children in shared custody situations, but only if doing so would benefit the child. If you need legal assistance dealing with a custody dispute, it is advisable to meet with a lawyer. The assertive Miami child custody attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A. can evaluate your case and help you determine what steps you should take to protect your rights. You can reach us at 800-596-0579 or use the form online to set up a meeting.