Florida Law on Child Custody and Moving Out of State
Moving your child out of the area, or watching as the other parent attempts to move is the closest thing to begin caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand the primary parent may need the income of an out-of-area job. On the other hand, the parent left behind will permanently have their parental relationship changed in a negative way. There are many factors to moving a child after divorce in Florida – and many things to consider for both parents. Attorney Kristal Knox discusses some requirements and also describes a particularly difficult situation for one parent.
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Howard Iken: I assume this case or the situation started in Florida.
Kristal Knox: Correct. The original order was in Florida and the child and the mother and the father all resided in Florida.
Howard Iken: The mother, you’re saying, lost her job.
Kristal Knox: Correct.
Howard Iken: I assume that didn’t make things easy for her.
Kristal Knox: Right and she was desperate. She needed to work. She no longer had a place to stay. She needed to do something and so she and the child moved to another state.
Howard Iken: The million dollar question, are you allowed to just move just like that after a divorce or some sort of other case where you have a kid?
Kristal Knox: You can move, but no more than fifty miles.
Howard Iken: Let me clarify this. Does this depend on having a child or you simply can’t move?
Kristal Knox: If you have a child and there is a parenting plan in place and the court has ordered … made this parenting plan part of a court order, then you cannot move more than fifty miles without either a court order giving you permission to do so, or the written consent of the other parent.
Howard Iken: Is that in every single case?
Kristal Knox: Yes.
Howard Iken: Can you move if you didn’t get divorced or you were never married? Can you just pick up and move?
Kristal Knox: If there is not a court order in place, if there is not a parenting plan in place, then you have not violated the relocation statute.
Howard Iken: Let me talk about something specific that I hear quite a bit. A lot of people think it’s some sort of child abduction if in the middle of a marriage, you just pick up and move with your child and the police will look for that person and put them under arrest. Is there any fact behind that?
Kristal Knox: No, there isn’t. If you’re married, you both have equal rights to the child and you can move at any time prior to the divorce being filed.
Howard Iken: I have a child and if my wife ends up watching this, I have to do a disclaimer. This has nothing to do with my plans. I’m staying put, but I could theoretically just pick up and move to San Francisco, which I actually like San Francisco. I can go there tomorrow with my child, you’re saying.
Kristal Knox: Correct, you can and you can go. You haven’t violated for the law in any way by moving. Now, I say that, but if your wife is upset about this and it’s likely she will be if you would take across the country.
Howard Iken: I would say, the chances are pretty high.
Kristal Knox: Yes. If she is upset about this and she does file for a divorce here in Florida, there is a possibility that you’ll have to return the child.
Howard Iken: My wife would either kill me or file. I think that’s a given.
Kristal Knox: Yes.
Howard Iken: Let me go ahead and step back a bit. Let’s say I decided to just take a chance and move to San Francisco with my child. You’re saying it’s not against the law if I’m married right now.
Kristal Knox: Correct. It’s not against the law.
Howard Iken: What could happen then?
Kristal Knox: There’s a possibility you’d get to stay, that you’d be able to stay in San Francisco or wherever you want to go.
Howard Iken: All right, again, a disclaimer. I would miss my wife, but I’d really enjoy San Francisco. Let’s assume I wanted to stay there. What could happen?
Kristal Knox: The court could allow you to stay there if she files for divorce. She has to file for divorce to do anything about it.
Howard Iken: The court doesn’t get into this immediately.
Kristal Knox: Correct.
Howard Iken: Let me just clarify. Would the police get involved if she called the police?
Kristal Knox: No, they wouldn’t. You’re married.
Howard Iken: What if she did call the police, what would they do?
Kristal Knox: They would say, “I’m sorry, but you know that that’s the child’s father and your husband and it’s a civil matter.”
Howard Iken: It sounds like it’s a pretty big deal to try to get permission to relocate in Florida.
Kristal Knox: It is. It’s very hard to get a relocation in Florida. There is a statute that must be followed. It’s very specific. It’s very specific as to the requirements.
Howard Iken: No shortcuts.
Kristal Knox: Correct, not shortcuts. You need to follow that statute to the T. The petition needs to follow that statute to the T or it will be thrown out.
Howard Iken: No moving before you do that.
Kristal Knox: Yes. You must consult an attorney. Have them explain the requirements to you.
Howard Iken: Now is my next question. You really want to use an attorney.
Kristal Knox: You do. Using an attorney, especially in a relocation case is very important, because there are very specific things that you must do.
Howard Iken: As we said, this is not a good situation to just pick up and move without any sort of procedure or permission.
Kristal Knox: Correct. I mean, if you do that, it’s very likely you’re coming back and it doesn’t matter what you’ve done in your new location. It doesn’t matter if you’re settled and how long you’ve been there. You’re likely going to have to come back if you don’t follow the statute.
Howard Iken: Do you offer consultations before someone actually moves or they’re trying to keep someone else from moving?
Kristal Knox: Absolutely. Come and speak with me and I will discuss the details with you.
Howard Iken: All right. Well, we appreciate very much you coming to talk about relocation and we hope to have you back and talk about that some more. Thank you very much, Ms. Knox.
Kristal Knox: Thank you.
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