Relocation has very specific rules and guidelines that must be followed. There may be a variety of different reasons that someone would like to relocate and take the children with him or her, but there have to be specific reasons that prove to the court, if the relocation is not agreed upon by the parents, that the relocation would be in the best interest of the minor children. If you are getting remarried and your new spouse resides in a different city or state, that in itself is not a sufficient reason to take children away from the other parent. Just like in any other type of domestic case, the burden of proof is lower in an initial proceeding (preponderance of the evidence); however, if you desire to relocate after a final judgment has been entered, the burden of proof increases to clear and convincing evidence, which is a much more difficult burden to prove.If you have a parent who does not regularly exercise his or her time-sharing with the children and does not actively participate in their lives with decision making and such, this may be an easier case to prove, and you may be able to relocate. However, it is very difficult to be successful IF the non-relocating parent is an active parent who has a significant role in the children’s lives. This does not mean that it is impossible; it means that you will have to make sure you are ready to allow your attorney to use certain tools that may be expensive: guardian ad litems, social investigations, subpoenaed records, extensive documentary discovery, depositions, etc.
Relocation actions are not quick, so if you have a target date in mind that you want to relocate by, make sure you have hired an attorney at least five months in advance — and that is not to say the case will be over in five months, but you may be awarded a temporary relocation until the ultimate decision is made in a mediation agreement or trial. This temporary relocation is supposed to be without prejudice, which means that you cannot use the temporary relocation as evidence in the trial to state that since the child has relocated on a temporary basis, the court should just let him or her stay. If the nonrelocating parent permits you to relocate without the need for a trial, you should always remember that this is a gift to you, and note that you should always be cognizant of their sacrifice and be more flexible with their long-distance parenting plan.
If you are served with a relocation petition, and it was done correctly, your failure to respond can cause the children to be relocated without a hearing, so know that if you just ignore this petition, like post-petition, it does not just go away. The attorneys at Schwam-Wilcox & Associates have worked for the parents requesting the move and for the parents objecting to the move. We can guide you through this difficult period of time in order to obtain the best outcome based on the facts of your particular case.
Learn More About Relocation after Divorce
If you are in need of a family law attorney (lawyer) in Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake or other counties throughout Florida call Schwam-Wilcox & Associates at 407-245-7700, or Contact Us by completing the form below to schedule a consultation. Schwam-Wilcox & Associates is a firm you can trust, and our attorneys are ready to help you with your legal needs. The main office is conveniently located near Winter Park in Orlando, with appointments also available in The Villages.