In Florida child relocation cases, we didn't really have an answer to the question of how to measure the distance until recently. The 5th District Court of Appeal answered the relocation distance question in a case named Tucker v. Liebknetcht.
The parties entered into a mediated parenting agreement in a paternity case. (The same parenting plan law is used as in divorces). The agreement contained a common provision:
If the parent that the child lives with the majority of the time intends to relocate more than 50 miles from the present home, the parent must obtain permission in writing from the non-residential parent or obtain a prior Court Order of Approval.
This is similar to the relocation language used in Florida Statute 61.13001:
“Relocation” means a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence.
Back to our case:
The mom wanted to move to a location that was within 50 miles "as the crow flies," but more than 50 miles of driving. Even though it seems to make sense that driving distane should be the measure, the court disagreed.
The 5th district court stated that, " the general rule is that distance should be measured along the shortest straight line, on a horizontal plane and not along the course of a highway or along the usual traveled way." The court quoted another case for support: "To suggest that the distance should be calculated by some circuitous pedestrian route would be a tortuous reading of the statute that would violate its plain intent and meaning."
Isn't the real reason for the 50 mile limit so that children are not subjected to excessive travel in order to spend time with the other parent? Even with a 50 mile limit, kids can spend an hour or more in the car travelling. So the moral of the story is to be very specific in your agreements. If you want to measure by driving distance, specify that way of measuring distane. That way, if there is a relocation petition filed in the future, you won't have to spend a year or more arguing over how to measure the distance if a parent wants to relocate in Florida.