We’re Outta Here!!! Maybe…

In a place populated by displaced northerners and others escaping bad weather or starting over in the “Sunshine State,” a common issue in family law cases is one party’s desire to grab the children, leave Florida, and head “back home” when his marriage hits the skids.

We often meet parents who either want to take the kids and leave, or who are afraid the other parent is on the verge of doing so herself. Fortunately, Florida’s Statutes (specifically Section 61.13001) provide some guidance for parties in this situation.

Let me first talk to the parent who is lying awake at night in fear that his spouse or significant other is going to disappear out of town with the minor children. According to Florida Statute 61.13001, a parent cannot relocate, with a child, more than 50 miles from the residence, unless that parent has a court order or the written consent of the other parent.

While the Statute’s definition of “Relocate” does allow for brief periods of travel for certain purposes (i.e. vacation or health care for the child), it does not allow your spouse or significant other to pack up the kids and “move” to any location more than 50 miles from the residence. If you wake up to find that this has happened to you, the Statute allows the court to facilitate the quick return of the child, although you will want to counsel with an experienced family law attorney to ensure you and your child are protected.

And to the parent who truly believes it is best for the child to “relocate” out of the area or the State, the Statute gives you the process for trying to make that happen. If you file a Petition for Relocation you will have the chance to explain to the Court all of the reasons it is better for the child to move to the new location. But make sure the focus truly is on the best interests of your child(ren). A court is not going to let you move away just because you don’t want to be around your soon-to-be former spouse, or because you miss your family back home. So before you say “We’re outta here!” make sure you’ve consulted with an attorney and followed the law. Otherwise you could find yourself on the business end of a very unhappy family law judge!”