Florida’s relocation statute – FS 61.13001 (enacted 2006) – significantly restricts the custodial parent’s right to move out of the non-custodial parent’s residence. Before the passage of the statute, a custodial parent could move virtually anywhere in Florida without court permission.
However, the Florida legislature passed that it has redefined the term relocation as moving 50 miles or more from the other parent’s residence. Based on prior case law, relocation was interpreted to mean moving out of Florida, not within Florida. Under the new law, a custodial parent who wants to move must now file and deliver written notice to the other parent and show, through detailed information, why the relocation should be granted. The noncustodial parent now has the right to file a written response within 30 days, in addition to having the right to an evidentiary hearing. The Notice of Intent to Relocate must be served on the other parent and all other persons who have custody and/or visitation rights ordered by the court. The Notice must include the following information:
* A description of the neighborhood and the area.
* The address of the new intended residence.
* The phone number of the new intended residence.
* The date of the intended move or proposed relocation.
* Reasons for relocation. If one of the reasons is based on a written job offer, the offer must be attached.
* A proposed visitation schedule and transportation arrangements.
It may be insufficient for a custodial parent merely to show that the desired relocation would provide him and the children with a support system (eg, parents, other relatives, friends, etc.). Similarly, it may be insufficient just to show that he awaits a much better paying job in the desired location.
However, a combination of the above factors with any other factors (eg, providing a surrogate visitation plan that includes the other parent’s contribution to transportation costs) would probably be legally sufficient. If the noncustodial parent has not been an active parent, relocation would be more likely. A difficult decision for a judge is to allow relocation when the employer of the custodial parent or her new spouse requires that person transfer to a new location. In short, a combination of relocation factors must always be stated in detail in the required Notice of Intent to Relocate.