Is Your Former Spouse Stopping You From Relocating?

Is your former spouse stopping you from relocating for a new job?

My client, Jane, had lost her job and home and wanted to move outside of Florida. She had been offered a new job in Texas. Of course, this meant relocating the two children she shared with her former husband, John. John, however, was not in agreement to let their children move and give up his regular parenting time. It has become common in this economy to be presented with this type of scenario.

Florida Statute 61.13001 controls the possible relocation of children after a divorce separation if there’s no agreement between the parents. The courts weigh this request on its own merits, looking at all the relevant facts and circumstances, with the priority being placed on the best interests of the child.

Many child development professionals take the position that the best parent is both parents, meaning that the parents should have an equal, or almost equal, timesharing arrangement. In my experience, the amount of time that the secondary caregiver spends with the child is a huge factor for the Judge considering relocation of a child. In my case, if John is routinely exercising all of his parenting time (and is current with his child support obligations), it is difficult to establish an appropriate replacement timesharing schedule after a relocation.

Many parents wishing to relocate point to the fact that the relocation will improve their financial situation. They argue that the move makes them more financially stable, and therefore, that has a positive effect on the child. However, it’s clear in Florida law that what’s best for a parent isn’t necessarily what’s best for the child. You can’t just assume that improving the parent’s financial situation will be seen by the Judge as an improvement for the child.

Florida Statute 61.13001 requires the parent who wishes to relocate the child to provide particular detailed information to the Court. If the relocation request is based on a new job offer, any written job offer must be attached to the petition.

Unfortunately for the parent, there is a real difficulty in having the Judge hear the request before the time to accept the job offer terminates. If you file a motion for a temporary relocation while the petition is pending, the law says the hearing must occur within 30 days of filing the motion; however, the Judge may not be willing to truly consider the relocation until a final hearing.

     Posted on May 9, 2010 at 12:01 pm | No comment

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