“My ex-spouse exercises timesharing with our kids, but I want to move with them to another state. Can we go?”
Joel H. Feldman a divorce lawyer in South Florida answers:
Florida law evaluates each request to relocate with minor children on a case-by-case basis. There is no presumption in favor of or against relocation but, if your settlement agreement or divorce decree contains a restriction on relocation, it will be tougher to get court permission to relocate. Also, there are particular statutory requirements under Florida law regarding the giving of notice of intent to relocate, reasons to relocate, and proposed alternate timesharing with which one must comply as a prerequisite to relocation.
The most important factor a judge considers is whether the best interests of the children will be promoted by the move. The court will consider whether the move will improve the children’s quality of life, the moving parent’s quality of life, and whether alternative timesharing arrangements can be made so that the other parent will still have quality timesharing. The court will consider how often the other parent has exercised timesharing in the past, what added transportation and lodging costs may be involved, and whether either parent is acting vindictively.
A parent wishing to relocate with minor children needs to build up a strong case for moving. The parent needs to have solid reasons to move, such as remarriage, better employment opportunities, and availability of family to help in child-rearing and baby-sitting, and better educational opportunities for the children. The parent must demonstrate that relocation is best for the children, not simply better for her or him. The parent opposing the move needs to have solid reasons to oppose the move, beyond arguing that there will be less timesharing if the relocation is permitted. Unreasonable transportation costs and travel time, poorer school systems, inability to complete religious education, availability of local family and friends and psychological damage to the children all argue against relocation.
Whether you want to move or to prevent a move, you need to be prepared. There are no guarantees the move will be allowed or prohibited so you need to make a strong presentation why you should get what you want.