What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Seeks to Relocate Out of State with Your Child

With any family law litigation action, there are certain hard-and-fast rules established under Florida law. You only have a set number of days (or months or years) to take certain actions, and if you’re late, then you face serious consequences. The plaintiff has a specific burden of proof that must be met, and if the burden isn’t met, then the case ends in defeat. In other words, it isn’t enough just to know the facts of your case, you must also have someone on your side who knows the law and how to use the law’s procedural rules to your maximum advantage. For these and other benefits, look to a skilled South Florida family law attorney.

In the case of F.S. and L.D. the action being pursued was court approval of a child relocation, and the mother was the one seeking permission. In this kind of proceeding, there are specific rules. First, the parent who desires to move the child must go to court and ask the judge for permission to make the move in advance. After that happens, the other parent has a very limited period of time in which to file an objection. That is one reason (among several) why, if you receive legal papers serving you with notice that your ex has filed a request for child relocation with the court, you act with all due speed, including moving swiftly to retain knowledgeable counsel.

The law only gives you 20 days after you’ve been served with papers in which to file your objection and get that objection served on the other parent. Filing too late — or failing to file at all — can have dramatically disastrous consequences. Florida law says that if a parent files a valid request for relocation and the other parent fails to submit a timely objection, then the court can simply give permission for the relocation, unless there is evidence on record to indicate that the move isn’t in the best interests of the child. What’s more, the court can make that decision and give that approval without even holding a hearing.

If you object on time, or if the court decides for other reasons to hold a hearing, then it is important to understand which parent must prove what. The law in Florida requires the requesting parent to prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the move is in the child’s best interest. “Preponderance of the evidence” means “more likely than not,” or put another way, that at least 51% of the evidence favors that party’s argument.

What’s also important to understand is that the burden of proof described in the preceding paragraph is placed upon every requesting parent in every case where the judge orders a hearing, regardless of whether or not the non-requesting parent filed a timely objection. For example, in F.S. and L.D.’s case, the mother requested relocation of the child from Miami to Huntsville, Alabama. The father did not file a timely objection. The trial judge in this couple’s case held a hearing but shifted the burden of proof from the mother to the father. The appeals court favored the father in his appeal, declaring that this shifting of the burden of proof was improper. The outcome could have been much worse for this father, as the trial court conceivably could have approved the relocation without even holding a hearing, and that hypothetical order likely would have survived an appeal.

Whether you need to relocate with your child, or want stop a far-away relocation of your child, this case is far too important to leave anything to doubt. Act quickly to reach out to the skilled South Florida family law attorneys at Sandy T. Fox, P.A., who have been providing effective representation in family law matters for many years. Contact our attorneys online or by calling (800) 596-0579 to schedule your confidential consultation.

More blog posts:

How a Long-Distance Relocation Can Impact–and Require Modification of–Your Florida Parenting Plan, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Nov. 28, 2018

Winning a Child Relocation Battle in Florida After the Primary Earner in Your Family Gets a Job Transfer, Fort Lauderdale Divorce Lawyer Blog, Aug. 14, 2018

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