Fort Lauderdale Relocation Lawyer
Experienced and Individualized Attention to Your Case
At GFC Law, we seek to guide and support families through whatever legal matters they face. Family law can be complex and nuanced, especially when it comes to matters like relocation, which entail legal petitions and significant modifications to existing arrangements. Attorney Gary F. Celetti, Jr. has years of experience representing Fort Lauderdale families and prioritizes individualized attention to each of his clients’ cases. In fact, he intentionally keeps his case counts low so he can devote significant time to each unique case he takes on. You can trust GFC Law to provide the personalized and professional guidance you need to navigate your relocation proceedings.
Petitioning for Relocation
Under Florida family law, relocation of a parent is when they move 50 miles or more from their current residence for at least 60 days. Relocation is not a temporary change, such as for vacation or seeking certain medical care for the child; as relocation warrants a change in custody and parenting plans, the move needs to be significant enough to justify modification.
Parents may settle their own agreement regarding a relocation by signing a written agreement establishing the terms of the move and the new custody arrangements. More specifically, the agreement must:
- show that both parents agree to the relocation;
- create a time-sharing schedule for the non-relocating parent; and
- establish how the parents will handle transportation of the child for visitation periods.
If the parents settle an agreement without dispute, they can submit it to the court for approval and ask that it be ratified without having to attend a formal hearing. However, if the parents cannot reach complete agreement about the relocation, the parent seeking to move must file a petition to relocate with the court and serve it on the other parent. This petition to relocate must include:
- the address and phone number of the place where the parent wishes to relocate;
- the date of the proposed relocation;
- the reasons for the move, such as a copy of a written job offer;
- the proposed visitation schedule after relocation; and
- the proposed plan for transportation.
Once the non-relocating parent receives the above notice, they have 20 days to file a response. The response should address why they believe the move shouldn’t be granted, justified by a statement of how much the non-relocating parent participates in the child’s life. If the non-relocating parent does not respond, however, the court may grant the relocation request without a hearing.
Be aware that if a parent relocates without getting court approval, the court may find them in contempt of court. The consequences of such a situation could vary; the court could order the parent to return the child they may have taken with them, pay the other parent’s attorney fees, modify the custody arrangement in favor of the other parent, or impose other penalties.
Factors the Court Will Consider for Approving Relocation
As with any custody and parenting plan decision, the court will consider the child’s best interests when evaluating whether a parent’s relocation should be granted. Primarily, the court will consider the following factors:
- the child’s relationship with both the relocating and non-relocating parent;
- the child’s age and current needs;
- the impact the move will have on the child’s development;
- the ability to maintain the relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent;
- cost and logistics to maintain visitation between the child and non-relocating parent;
- the child’s preference (if of mature age and mind);
- whether the relocation will improve the lives of the parent and child;
- the parents’ reasons for and against the relocation;
- whether the relocation is necessary for financial reasons;
- whether the relocating parent is attempting to move for good faith reasons;
- whether the non-relocating parent has complied with paying child support, alimony, and division of marital property (if applicable);
- whether either parent has had a history of substance abuse or domestic violence; and
- any other relevant factor.
Note that the parent seeking to relocate has the burden of proving that the move is in the child’s best interest. After the parent petitions for relocation, the court will schedule:
- a hearing within 30 days of the relocation motion being filed; or
- a trial within 90 days of the filed motion.
Questions? Contact GFC Law.
If you have legal questions about the process of relocation in Fort Lauderdale, whether you are a parent seeking to move with your child or you are the non-moving parent, an experienced relocation lawyer can help you. Motions for relocation can be complex, especially as they require a re-negotiation of an existing custody plan. GFC Law has worked with Fort Lauderdale families for years and aims to help you maintain the parent-child relationship you deserve.