Losing day-to-day contact with their children is a big fear for many parents who divorce. It becomes even more devastating if the coparent announces that they want to move to a different town, state or country at some point after the divorce is final. Divorce agreements typically include language about how far apart parents will live, but the coparent may claim they need to move for a better job or that it is in the children’s best interests. Nevertheless, uprooting the children after a divorce can lead to damaging consequences for children and their parents, so it may be necessary to protect one’s parental rights.
Like other states, Florida generally assigns joint custody to the parents. While it may not mean the children spend equal time with each parent, it does grant parents equal rights in decision-making.
Modifications must be approved
Moving with the children further than 50 miles for 60 or more consecutive days will likely require modifying the parenting agreement. If a parent does not agree to the move, the coparent may pursue a petition to relocate. The coparent wishing to move will then need to convince the judge that it is in the family’s best interests. The judge will consider:
- Why the coparent wants to move the children
- How the move will likely affect the children
- Why a parent objects to the move
- A proposed visitation schedule
- How active each parent is in raising the children
- Educational opportunities if the parent does move
- The child’s preference (depending upon the age)
- Other important unique issues
Defending a parent’s rights
Sometimes it is challenging to strike a compromise with an ex-spouse, which is why they are in court. However, parents may also be able to create their workable solution with the help of an attorney. In fact, this may be the best way to balance the needs of everyone involved. If the parent who moves is being unfair, the courts can also enforce the agreement and protect the rights of the aggrieved parent.