Can You Relocate or Move Out of State With Your Child?

moving out of state with child no custody agreement

Moving out of Florida with your child without the other parent’s approval is a complicated process. As a parent, you may have good reasons for wanting to relocate, such as a new job opportunity, a desire to be closer to family, or a need for a fresh start.

However, you should know that leaving the state with your child without the other parent’s permission can have significant legal implications and consequences.

Understanding Parental and Relocation Laws in Florida

Florida family courts divide parental rights into two main categories: parental responsibility and parenting time.

  1. Parenting Time: The amount of time each parent spends with their child, either as agreed upon by the parents or as ordered by the court.
  2. Parental Responsibility: The legal rights, duties, powers, responsibilities, and authority a parent has for a child, including the right to make decisions about a child’s care and upbringing.

In Florida, parents are presumed to have equal rights and responsibilities regarding their child. Therefore, if one parent decides to relocate, they must request and obtain permission from the other before relocating.

Florida’s Family Code 61.13001 defines relocation as a change in the principal residence of a parent or other person for at least 60 consecutive days when such change is 50 miles from the previous residence.

Factors to Consider Before Moving Out of State With Your Child

Be sure to consider the following factors carefully before attempting to get court permission to move out of state with your child.

Relocation Reasons

Are you moving for a job opportunity, to be closer to family, or for other compelling reasons? Your family law attorney must demonstrate that the move is in your child’s best interests and not simply for your own benefit.

Impact Other Parent’s Rights

How will the move affect your child’s ability to maintain a meaningful relationship with their other parent? Will the distance make it difficult for them to have regular visitation or contact?

Child’s Age, Development, and Needs.

Consider how the move may impact your child’s emotional well-being, education, and social connections. Will they adapt to a new school, make new friends, and thrive in a different environment?

Maintaining Co-parenting Relationship

Think about how you and the other parent will communicate, make decisions, and share parenting responsibilities across state lines. Can you work together effectively and prioritize your child’s needs?

Consequences of Relocating Without Permission

If a parent relocates their child outside of Florida without obtaining the necessary court approval, they may face serious legal consequences. Under Florida Statute 61.13001(3)(e), the court has the authority to order the immediate return of the child to the state.

Additionally, if a parenting plan is in place, the court may find the parent who relocated in contempt of court, which can result in financial penalties and even imprisonment. Furthermore, the court may consider the unauthorized relocation as a factor when determining whether to modify the existing parenting plan, potentially leading to a change in parental responsibility.

Why Judges Deny Relocation Requests

After filing a petition to relocate your child, a Florida family court judge carefully evaluates your arguments to determine whether the move is in your child’s best interests. Some factors that may lead a judge to deny your relocation request include:

Lack of a compelling reason for the move.

The courts are less likely to approve the move if they believe you’re relocating primarily for your benefit and not your child’s well-being,

Disruption to your child’s life and relationships.

If the move would significantly disrupt your child’s education, existing friendships, or relationship with the other parent, the court may determine that a move is not in your child’s best interests.

Evidence of bad faith or an attempt to limit the other parent’s involvement.

Florida family court judges often deny relocation requests when suspecting you’re moving to limit the other parent’s access to your child or gain an unfair advantage in a dispute.

Preparing for a Successful Relocation Case

There are several steps you can take to strengthen your relocation case and increase your chances of success:

  1. Gather evidence to support your reasons for moving and how the move will better the child’s life (i.e., better family income, education opportunities, or living closer to relatives in the new location).
  2. Demonstrate how the move aligns with your child’s best interests by highlighting opportunities for growth, stability, and a strong relationship with both parents.
  3. Propose a detailed parenting plan that addresses visitation schedules, communication methods, and travel arrangements to show that your child can maintain a meaningful relationship with the other parent despite the distance.
  4. Communicate openly and honestly with the other parent about your reasons for relocating and try to reach an agreement outside of court. Mediation or collaborative law approaches may help you find a mutually acceptable solution.

Why Working With a Florida Family Law Attorney Helps

Trying to litigate a relocation petition alone or negotiating with the other parent can be overwhelming.

However, having a skilled family law attorney who understands Florida’s relocation laws do the work for you can ensure the courts will hear your arguments.

A knowledgeable family law attorney can help you:

  • Understand your parent-relocation options and legal obligations.
  • Gather evidence and build a strong case for why the move is in your child’s best interests.
  • Negotiate with the other parent to agree on relocation terms and parenting arrangements.
  • Represent you in court proceedings and argue persuasively on your behalf.
  • Draft a comprehensive parenting plan that meets your child’s needs and addresses the unique challenges of long-distance co-parenting.

Ultimately, your child’s well-being is the most important consideration in any relocation case. As a parent, it’s your responsibility to make decisions that prioritize your family’s needs. You must also work collaboratively with the other parent to ensure a stable, nurturing environment for your child.

If you’re planning to move out of state with your children, seek legal guidance from the Vollrath Law. Our family law firm will evaluate your case and develop a strategy for achieving your goals while protecting your child’s welfare.

Schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable family law attorneys today. Together, we can work towards a solution that protects your rights, prioritizes your child’s happiness, and sets the foundation for a new move for you and your family.

Author Bio

Stephanie Vollrath is an Owner and Partner of Vollrath Law, a Florida estate planning law firm she founded in 2013. With more than seven years of experience in investments and financial advising and 13 years practicing law in Florida, she represented clients in a wide range of estate planning cases. Her practice areas include wills, trusts, guardianship, probate, and other estate planning matters.

Stephanie received her Juris Doctor from the Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Seminole County Bar Association.

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