Clearwater Lawyer Experienced in Child Custody and Relocation Issues

Changes in parental residence can alter custody rights in the eyes of the court

Relocation issues arise when one parent finds it necessary to change residence. The move may be for any number of reasons. A parent may need to relocate because of new employment, a new marriage or to be closer to other family members. Conversely, a parent may wish to prohibit the relocation of another parent because it presents inconveniences and is not in the best interests of the children.

Jennifer C. Harrington, P.A. works to resolve your issues, regardless of which side of the relocation disagreement you find yourself. Attorney Jennifer C. Harrington has more than 20 years of family law experience with divorce, child custody and relocation matters.

Understanding relocation law and how it affects you

Relocation is a change in a parent's primary address from the residence used to establish the original time-sharing or custody order in the divorce proceedings. Basically, a parent cannot move far away or leave for a duration of more than 60 days and expect to have the same custody rights without coming to a new agreement. The parent considering a move must give notice to the other parent by filing a petition to relocate prior to the move. “Far away” is defined as farther than 50 miles from the original dwelling. If an agreement is not met, the original custody order can be contested and a new hearing is held.

The parent wishing to relocate must request prior permission from the court. The court either allows the move or issues an injunction temporarily denying the move. A parent who moves without permission from the court or the other parent can be held in contempt of court and face severe penalties, including the possible loss of custody altogether.

Florida statute governs parental relocation matters. In determining whether a contested relocation should be approved or denied, the court considers various factors, including:

  • The relationship the child has with each parent
  • The child's relationship with siblings, grandparents and other close relatives or friends
  • The child’s age and mental capacity
  • Effect of the move on the child
  • Whether the relocation improves the quality of life for the child or the parent
  • Reasons the other parent opposes the move
  • Whether the move is being pursued in good faith or as a punishment to the other party
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Domestic violence issues

Relocation can clearly affect child custody agreements and parenting plans. Most of all, it impacts the child. For more than 20 years, Attorney Harrington has witnessed the negative and positive results of relocation. If your relocation or that of your former spouse is necessary, she can help you resolve any issues.

Florida Statute 61.1300-Parental relocation with a child.

PETITION TO RELOCATE.—Unless an agreement has been entered as described in subsection (2), a parent or other person seeking relocation must file a petition to relocate and serve it upon the other parent, and every other person entitled to access to or time-sharing with the child. The pleadings must be in accordance with this section:

(a) The petition to relocate must be signed under oath or affirmation under penalty of perjury and include:

  1. A description of the location of the intended new residence, including the state, city, and specific physical address, if known.
  2. The mailing address of the intended new residence, if not the same as the physical address, if known.
  3. The home telephone number of the intended new residence, if known.
  4. The date of the intended move or proposed relocation.
  5. A detailed statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation. If one of the reasons is based upon a job offer that has been reduced to writing, the written job offer must be attached to the petition.
  6. A proposal for the revised postrelocation schedule for access and time-sharing together with a proposal for the postrelocation transportation arrangements necessary to effectuate time-sharing with the child. Absent the existence of a current, valid order abating, terminating, or restricting access or time-sharing or other good cause predating the petition, failure to comply with this provision renders the petition to relocate legally insufficient.
  7. Substantially the following statement, in all capital letters and in the same size type, or larger, as the type in the remainder of the petition:
  8. The anticipated division of parental responsibilities after the litigation, including the extent to which parental responsibilities will be delegated to third parties.
  9. The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to determine, consider, and act upon the needs of the child as opposed to the needs or desires of the parent.
  10. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  11. The geographic viability of the parenting plan,
  12. The mental and physical health of the parents.
  13. The home, school, and community record of the child The demonstrated knowledge, capacity, and disposition of each parent to be informed of the circumstances of the minor child, including, but not limited to, the child’s friends, teachers, medical care providers, daily activities, and favorite things.
  14. The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to provide a consistent routine for the child, such as discipline, and daily schedules for homework, meals, and bedtime.
  15. The demonstrated capacity of each parent to communicate with and keep the other parent informed of issues and activities regarding the minor child, and the willingness of each parent to adopt a unified front on all major issues when dealing with the child. The particular parenting tasks customarily performed by each parent and the division of parental responsibilities before the institution of litigation and during the pending litigation, including the extent to which parenting responsibilities were undertaken by third parties.
  16. The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to participate and be involved in the child’s school and extracurricular activities.
  17. The demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to maintain an environment for the child which is free from substance abuse. The capacity and disposition of each parent to protect the child from the ongoing litigation as demonstrated by not discussing the litigation with the child, not sharing documents or electronic media related to the litigation with the child, and refraining from disparaging comments about the other parent to the child.
  18. The developmental stages and needs of the child and the demonstrated capacity and disposition of each parent to meet the child’s developmental needs.
  19. Any other factor that is relevant to the determination of a specific parenting plan, including the time-sharing schedule.


Know your rights concerning parental relocation in Florida

Our legal team provides strategic advice and confident representation throughout Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey and Tampa. Parental relocation matters require legal resolution. If relocation is an issue for you and your family, contact Jennifer C. Harrington, P.A. today at 727-787-3700 or online. Our office is conveniently located on U.S. Route 19.

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    29605 U.S. Highway 19 North,
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    Clearwater, Florida 33761

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