When going through a divorce, you may already have a vague plan of your next steps as a single parent. Perhaps you want to move back to your hometown, move out of state in order to get a fresh start or move to a new city to start a new job. Regardless of what your plan is, you may have concerns about what your former spouse might have to say about your intention to relocate along with your child. You might also have concerns about whether it is legal to relocate if the other parent still has legal custody of the child.
As a single parent, life is often chaotic and you need to rely on consistency and organization to get through every day. But when less frequent events crop up, such as deciding to relocate -- perhaps to a different state -- you need to be more prepared than ever to handle the changes that will come for you and your family.
Child custody agreements are often very fragile since they are mostly mutual agreements between two people that have decided to separate from each other. Therefore, when a custodial parent decides to relocate with his or her child, it can cause a lot of damage to the mutual trust that has been built, and can potentially breach the child custody agreement, too.
Imagine you have a 10-year-old son. You're a single mother sharing physical and legal custody with the father of your child. He spends half the time with you and half the time with his dad. However, you just got the job offer of your dreams, making triple your normal salary. The problem is: The job is out of state and your custody orders say you can't move out of state without permission from the other parent.
Let's imagine that you received the most important job offer of your life. You'll have more responsibility, double your income and have a lot of chance for advancement. The problem is, the job opportunity is in Atlanta and you live in Orlando with your son, who has to spend half the time with his father each week.
After ending your marriage, your life will change in multiple ways. You may even decide to relocate. The decision to relocate, however, becomes complicated when children are involved. Is your spouse okay with your decision to relocate? Can a custodial obtain permission to relocate if the noncustodial parent disagrees?
Few things are as tough for a court to decide as a relocation child custody case. Two parents who live near each other may not have a hard time initially agreeing on a child custody plan where both are still heavily involved in the child's life. When one decides to leave Florida and move to Maine or Texas or California, though, it can mean one parent realistically loses that relationship.
As if going through a divorce wasn't bad enough on your children, now you are contemplating relocating to another state. This, of course, means moving your children too far away from their noncustodial parent to meet the visitation requirements of your divorce decree. Which, in turns, means that a modification to your divorce decree is in order.
In the state of Florida, we have a divorce law informally known as the "50-mile rule." It is formally known as the Relocation Statute, and it prevents the custodial parent of a child from moving over 50 miles away from their current residence if a Florida court order has been put in place regarding his or her children.