In Florida, whether you have a parenting agreement or not, you cannot move with the child without signing some kind of written document. It may be a written agreement or it may be a court order. The type of document necessary depends on whether the parents are agreed or not as to the relocation.
If the parents are agreed as to the relocations they must enter into a written agreement that
“1. Reflects consent to the relocation;
2. Defines an access or time-sharing schedule for the nonrelocating parent and any other persons who are entitled to access or time-sharing; and
3. Describes, if necessary, any transportation arrangements related to access or time-sharing.” Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.13.001(2)(a)
If the parents are agreed as to the relocation and a court order or parenting agreement exists “the parties shall seek ratification of the agreement by court order” Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.13.001(2)(b). After that ratification is entered, the parties have only 10 days within which they can change their mind and ask the court to undo the ratification.
If the court order exists, you have to go to the county it was entered in to modify it. If the court order does not exist, you must go to the Collier County courthouse if the child lives in Naples, Florida.
If the parents are not agreed to the relocation the Florida statute lays out very strict requirements as to what is necessary when you file a petition for relocation with the Florida courts:
“(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:
A RESPONSE TO THE PETITION OBJECTING TO RELOCATION MUST BE MADE IN WRITING, FILED WITH THE COURT, AND SERVED ON THE PARENT OR OTHER PERSON SEEKING TO RELOCATE WITHIN 20 DAYS AFTER SERVICE OF THIS PETITION TO RELOCATE. IF YOU FAIL TO TIMELY OBJECT TO THE RELOCATION, THE RELOCATION WILL BE ALLOWED, UNLESS IT IS NOT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD, WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE AND WITHOUT A HEARING.” Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.13.001(3)(a)
This petition must be formally served upon the other parent. Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.13.001(3)(b)
After the other parent has been served, they have 20 days to file an objection to the relocation. If they fail to file an objection, the court will assume that the relocation is in the best interests of the child. If the other party shows it had good cause for filing the objection late, the 20 day rule may be waived. Vaelizadeh v. Hossaini, 174 So. 3d 579, 580 (Fla. 4th DCA 2015)
The objection has to be very specific as well, “An answer objecting to a proposed relocation must be verified and include the specific factual basis supporting the reasons for seeking a prohibition of the relocation, including a statement of the amount of participation or involvement the objecting party currently has or has had in the life of the child.” Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.13.001(5)
If the person filing the petition for relocation does not follow the statute’s stringent requirements regarding filing the petition can give the court permission to deny the relocation of the child on that basis alone (even if the relocation is in the best interests of the child). Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.13.001(3)(e) The court can then issue a temporary order preventing the relocation until the court is able to examine all the factors in a full and formal evidentiary hearing. Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.13.001(6)
If the parents require the Florida court to decide on relocation, the court will consider the following:
“(a) The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent or other person proposing to relocate with the child and with the nonrelocating parent, other persons, siblings, half-siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life.
(b) The age and developmental stage of the child, the needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child.
(c) The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating parent or other person and the child through substitute arrangements that take into consideration the logistics of contact, access, and time-sharing, as well as the financial circumstances of the parties; whether those factors are sufficient to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the child and the nonrelocating parent or other person; and the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent or other person once he or she is out of the jurisdiction of the court.
(d) The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.
(e) Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the parent or other person seeking the relocation and the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefits or educational opportunities.
(f) The reasons each parent or other person is seeking or opposing the relocation.
(g) The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent or other person and whether the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic circumstances of the parent or other person seeking relocation of the child.
(h) That the relocation is sought in good faith and the extent to which the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the parent or other person seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and marital property and marital debt obligations.
(i) The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other person if the relocation occurs.
(j) A history of substance abuse or domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28 or which meets the criteria of s. 39.806(1)(d) by either parent, including a consideration of the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation.
(k) Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child or as set forth in s. 61.13.” Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.13.001(7)
The burden of proving all of these factors will be on the parent requesting relocation. Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.13.001(8) This final hearing must occur within 90 days of the petition having been filed. The court can consider the matter on a temporary basis even sooner, 30 days, if a motion for temporary relocation is also filed.
If the court does order relocation, the court can reschedule the parenting time based on the relocation. Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.13.001(9)(a) This would include telephone time, Skype, or any other kind of additional parenting time that is feasible for the non-relocating parent.
The court also has the power to allocate transportation costs between the parents after a relocation. Fla. Stat. Sec. 61.13.001(9)(b). What this often means is the relocating parent has to pay the non-relocating parent’s transportation costs because the relocating parent got the benefit of relocating.