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Child custody and relocation laws in Florida - Part I

It is common for people to relocate from one city or state to another. However, relocation may not be easy when children are involved. In some circumstances, the court may refuse to allow a custodial parent to move to a different city, state, or even another country with a child. So, if you are considering relocating for any reason, it's essential to understand how the move can potentially affect your custody arrangement and visitation schedule.

In a relocation dispute, the court will determine what would be in the child's best interest. Courts will allow relocation only if the non-custodial parent has expressly agreed in a written agreement, which also includes a planned visitation schedule. If such an agreement has not been executed, a parent who wishes to move must file a petition to relocate with details, such as their new address, contact number, date, the reason for the relocation and the new custody schedule and serve that agreement upon the other parent.

Any objection to the relocation must be filed in writing with the court and be served upon the relocating parent within 20 days. If an objection is timely filed, the court may refuse to allow the custodial parent to relocate without a hearing or trial.

Relocating with the child without adhering to the proper procedure will be considered a violation of the family court order and the consequences can be serious. The court may consider a modification of the parenting plan and custody schedules or order the relocating parent to compensate the non-relocating parent for their expenses and legal fees.

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