I want to relocate with my child. What steps do I have to take?
Under Florida law, a parent who wants to relocate with his/her child has to follow specific steps. “Relocation” means a change in location of your primary residence that is at least 50 miles away, and for at least 60 consecutive days -- this could be within the state of Florida or in another state. (Note: this does not include a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.)1
To petition the court for permission to relocate, the steps to follow are below. (However, if the other parent will agree to the relocation in writing, you may not need to go through these steps. See, instead, I want to relocate with my child and the other parent agrees. What do I do?)
First, the law requires that you go to court and file a “Petition to Relocate with a Child” and serve it upon the other parent, and every other person entitled to access to or time-sharing with the child. You should also keep an original copy for yourself. This “Petition to Relocate with a Child” must include:
- A description of the location of the intended new residence, including the state, city, and specific physical address, if known.
- The mailing address of the intended new residence, if not the same as the physical address, if known.
- The home telephone number of the intended new residence, if known.
- The date of the intended move or proposed relocation.
- A detailed statement of the specific reasons for the proposed relocation of the child. If one of the reasons is based upon a job offer which has been out into writing, that written job offer must be attached to the petition.
- A proposal for the revised post-relocation schedule for access and time-sharing together with a proposal for the post-relocation transportation arrangements necessary for the time-sharing with the child to take place.
- The following statement, in all capital letters and in the same size type, or larger, as the type-face in the rest of your petition: “A RESPONSE TO THE PETITION OBJECTING TO RELOCATION MUST BE MADE IN WRITING, FILED WITH THE COURT, AND SERVED ON THE PARENT OR OTHER PERSON SEEKING TO RELOCATE WITHIN 20 DAYS AFTER SERVICE OF THIS PETITION TO RELOCATE. IF YOU FAIL TO TIMELY OBJECT TO THE RELOCATION, THE RELOCATION WILL BE ALLOWED, UNLESS IT IS NOT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD, WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE AND WITHOUT A HEARING.”1
If the other parent or anyone else entitled to access or time-sharing files a response objecting to the petition to relocate, the judge will hold a hearing or trial where you will have to convince the judge that it is in the child’s best interests to relocate and you will have to get permission from the court before you can relocate. If the other parent does NOT file a response objecting to the petition to relocate, you will still have to get an order from the judge but the judge will generally enter an order that reflects the changes you proposed in the petition. This will be done without a court hearing.2
Note: For information on how to properly prepare and serve this Petition to Relocate, or how to properly serve an objection to the other parent’s petition to relocate, please contact the courthouse in your county and/or talk to a lawyer who specializes in custody matters in Florida. If you need assistance in finding a lawyer, you can find free and paid lawyers on our FL Finding a Lawyer page. Also, if you are a victim of domestic violence, the organizations listed on our FL Advocates and Shelters page may be able to refer you to a lawyer or another organization that will be able to assist you.
1 Fla. Stat. § 61.13001(1)(e)
2 Fla. Stat. § 61.13001(3)(a)
3 Fla. Stat. § 61.13001(3)(e)