Divorce is rarely easy. The emotional toll alone can be overwhelming, and so, too, can the financial ramifications. Yet, those who have children may see the harshest fall out from marriage dissolution. Many times, Floridians struggle to explain to their children why their parents are separating. Even though settling an initial child custody and visitation dispute can be fraught with challenges, the matter can be exacerbated by the fact that the issue can pop its head back up at almost any time post-divorce.
For example, parents in Florida may find themselves in a dispute of custodial parent relocation. Here, a custodial parent seeks to move a great distance away from a noncustodial parent, which, in turn, can affect the noncustodial parent’s access to his or her child. Since a seemingly minor thing (i.e. a move) can turn out to have massive consequences, Florida law helps provide some guidance.
Under Florida law, a custodial parent is allowed to move with his or her child if the noncustodial parent is in agreement. However, even in these instances the agreement should be memorialized in writing and include how parenting time with the child will be shared and how transportation of the child for visitation will play out. In the event that the parties cannot agree to relocation, then the matter will go before a judge who will then make the ultimate decision.
When making that decision, a judge will consider a number of factors. Amongst those factors are the child’s age, his or her relationship with each parent, the difficulties that may arise in maintaining a relationship between the child and his or her noncustodial parent if relocation were allowed, how the move will change the child’s quality of life, the child’s preference with regard to the relocation, the parents’ reasons for their respective positions and the career prospects in the proposed relocation area.
Of course, this is just a sampling of what can be considered when a court considers a petition to relocate, and each of these factors are arguable. This means that Floridians who are confronting this issue, regardless of which side they fall on, need to ensure that they are prepared to make strong legal arguments to support their position.