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Can the Custodial Parent Leave the State of Florida Without the Other Parent’s Consent?

For divorced and separated parents, coming to a custody arrangement can bring a great sense of relief. At the same time, co-parenting is not a static process. Things can change. For example, one parent may decide it is time to relocate. This raises an important question: Can a custodial parent move out of Florida with a kid? The short answer is “it depends”—if that move is more than 50 miles away, then the parent needs either consent from the co-parent or court approval. These are often complicated cases. Here, our Stuart child custody attorney provides a comprehensive overview of the key things divorced/separated parents should know about Florida’s relocation laws.

Parental Relocation in Florida Know the Law

Parental Relocation in Florida: Know the Law

Our state has a comprehensive relocation law in place. Under Florida Statutes § 61.13001, there are specific rules and procedures that a parent who has primary physical custody must follow if his or her child is subject to a custody agreement/custody order. The law applies to the “relocation” of a child. However, state borders are generally not the key issue for Florida’s statute. Instead, distance is the most important consideration. Here is an overview:

  • Moving Less than 50 Miles: A move that is less than 50 miles is not, by law, automatically considered to be a substantial and material change in circumstances. A custodial parent might be able to move a child out of state without consent or court approval if they live in North Florida, close to the border.
  • Moving More than 50 Miles: A move of 50 miles is a presumptive relocation in Florida. Of course, if a child lives in Martin County, all out-of-state moves meet this standard. Many in-state moves do as well. In these cases, the custodial parent needs consent of the co-parent or court approval.

What does it mean to move? For the purposes of Florida’s parental relocation law, a parent generally needs to be moving their kid for at least 60 days. A 30-day summer vacation trip to a grandparent’s house in another state would not be considered a relocation. While the parent who is taking their kid on such a trip still needs to follow any existing custody/visitation arrangement, that type of case is generally not considered a relocation issue.

If No Consent is Given, Custodial Parent Must File a Petition to Relocate

For parental relocation cases, a collaborative approach often works best. A custodial parent should try to get consent before moving a child out of Florida. What happens if consent is not given? The answer is that a custodial parent who wants to move has the duty to notify the court and their co-parent in a timely manner—defined as a reasonable amount of time given the specific circumstances of the case. That parent will also need to file a petition to relocate. The court will then review the specific situation to determine if relocation—such as a move outside of Florida—should be permitted, given the lack of consent of the co-parent. Here is how the court decides:

  • Best Interests of the Child and Parental Relocation: Under Florida law (Florida Statutes § 61.13), the best interests of the child take precedence over other considerations in all custody and visitation cases, including parental relocation cases. The parent who is seeking to move a child outside of Florida with consent has the responsibility to demonstrate to the court that such a move is in the best interests of the child. Courts will often order mediation for parents going through relocation disputes. Though, if no agreement can be reached, the court will make the final decision. It could approve or deny the child’s relocation.

The Bottom Line: If a custodial parent wants to move more than 50 miles away, they are subject to Florida’s relocation laws. These laws require that parents notify their co-parents and seek consent for the move. If consent is not given, the custodial parent cannot move with the child unless they obtain court approval.

Contact Our Florida Child Custody Attorney for a Confidential Consultation

At The Law Office of Denise Miller, PA, our Florida child custody lawyer is a compassionate, experienced, and solutions-driven advocate for justice. If you have any questions about a custodial parent’s right/ability to relocate outside of Florida, we can help. Contact us today to set up a completely confidential initial appointment. From our Stuart office, we represent parents in child relocation cases in Martin County and throughout the surrounding region in Southeast Florida.

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