One. Unless your custody order has language that spells out how future moves will be decided, Florida Statute 61.13001 requires you to follow a specific procedure if you want to move your child more than 50 miles away from where you lived when the order was originally entered.
Two. Even if you are both in agreement with the move, there are new requirements.
Three. If you move without following the new procedure, you may be held in contempt of court and that’s only the beginning. If you don’t follow the new procedure, your violation can be used against you in court if the violation involves moving the child. It can even be a reason to change custody. It can also
be a reason for the judge to order you to pay the other parent’s attorney’s fees and costs. And the judge can order you to pay all the child’s travel expenses for visitation while the case is pending. The judge can even order you to return the child to the area permanently. These may seem like severe sanctions, but Florida has a strong policy that both parents encourage parents to “share the rights and responsibilities, and joys of childrearing.”
Four. The new statute spells out exactly what information must provided to the non-moving parent, when you have to give it, and how to provide the information in a Notice of Intent to Relocate to the non-moving parent.
Five. The non-moving parent has 30 days to object to the move. Like the Notice, the objection has to contain specific information and be provided to the moving parent in a certain way. If there is no objection in 30 days, the moving parent can file the Notice with the court and the court will enter an order approving the relocation plan contained in the Notice.
Six. If there is an objection, the moving parent has to ask
the court for permission to move. The court will have a hearing to
determine if it’s in the child’s best interest to move. The hearing
gets priority on the judge’s schedule. At the hearing, the judge will
consider ten factors about the relocation, along with any of the “best
interest” child custody factors of Florida Statute 61.13. Those factors
change on October 1, 2008.
Seven. The court will enter an order for time-sharing that can include telephone, Internet, and webcam contact, and any other arrangements so the child has frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact the other parent. The order can adjust child support and account for the increased transportation costs, but still has to consider the Child Support Guidelines.
Eight. Starting October 1, 2008, Florida will no longer designate a "primary residential parent." As originally written, the law required the primary residential parent to give notice. That sentence was amended to remove the primary residential parent language. Now when reading the sentence, it appears that both parents are required to provide the Notice of Intent to Relocate, regardless of how much timesharing that parent has with the child. Additional legislation to clarify this provision will be submitted in the next legislative session.
Because the sanctions can be severe, it is important to follow the procedures of Florida Statute 61.1301 if you want to relocate your child after final judgment in a Florida divorce.
NOTE: The law changes in 2008 and 2009 may have changed this information.