Relocation Factors Florida
The relocation factors Florida are set forth in Florida Statute 61.13001 titled “Parental relocation with a child.” The Relocation factors Florida applying to a contested relocation are announced in subsection 7. Florida Statute 61.13001(7) makes it abundantly clear that there is no presumption in favor of or against relocation.
First, I will provide relevant portions of the factors, or the factors in their entirety, and comment on each with a hypothetical, or a simple explanation of the meaning of each factor. Please note that the Florida family law court will take into account ALL of the factors, not just one factor in and of itself. No one of the relocation factors Florida is isolated as an outcome determinative factor.
Statutory Relocation Factors Florida
(a) The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent or other person proposing to relocate with the child and with the nonrelocating parent, other persons, siblings, half-siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life. This means that the Statute allows for evidence to be heard regarding BOTH parents’ involvement with the child, as well as any other familial involvement the child has in either or both locations. Why would a Florida family law court take a child away from strong family bonds and powerful parent-child relations absent a preponderance of the evidence to the contrary?
(b) The age and developmental stage of the child, the needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child. Is the child old enough to make decisions in a meaningful and rational manner? Will the relocation hinder the child’s development emotionally, or educationally? Is there a better or worse school where the relocating parent proposes to move? This is a critical relocation factor Florida where the best interests of the child are closely examined.
(c) The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the nonrelocating parent or other person and the child through substitute arrangements that take into consideration the logistics of contact, access, and time-sharing, as well as the financial circumstances of the parties; whether those factors are sufficient to foster a continuing meaningful relationship between the child and the nonrelocating parent or other person; and the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent or other person once he or she is out of the jurisdiction of the court. Suppose that mother has an opportunity to triple her income and send her daughter to private school. Housing is complimentary with this new job, and the quality of the private school far outweighs that of the public school where she is currently enrolled. However, by moving 2,000 miles away, daughter will rarely see dad, and dad just so happens to be her closest family member and her best friend. That makes the burden on mom to find time where dad may have visitation with daughter especially important for the court to consider when evaluating the merits of her petition for relocation based on the relocation factors Florida.
(d) The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child. Is the child 6 and of a tender and impressionable age or 16 and capable of making his own decisions? If the child is not old enough or mature for his age, the court will need to make its judgment without much input from the child.
(e) Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the parent or other person seeking the relocation and the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefits or educational opportunities. For instance, dad has decided to accept a job as a CEO of a major financial institution. If permitted to relocate with his son, his son will need to be in after school care and frequently with babysitters on nights and weekends. Dad’s income will go up, his quality of life will improve, but the child will experience the absence of consistent parenting.
(f) The reasons each parent or other person is seeking or opposing the relocation. Be truthful with the court and let your head and your heart speak on behalf of your child.
(g) The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent or other person and whether the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic circumstances of the parent or other person seeking relocation of the child. As mentioned above in response to one of the relocation factors Florida, if one party can double or triple their income and has limited or no employment opportunities locally, relocation may be the only way for the family to prosper.
(h) That the relocation is sought in good faith and the extent to which the objecting parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the parent or other person seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and marital property and marital debt obligations. The objecting parent may have a weaker argument if he/she owes $10,000 in child support arrears.
(i) The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other person if the relocation occurs. See answers above for clarity and examples.
(j) A history of substance abuse or domestic violence as defined in s. 741.28 or which meets the criteria of s. 39.806(1)(d) by either parent, including a consideration of the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation. If one parent has a history of alcohol or drug addiction and particularly if the child has been exposed to such abuse, the court may want the relocating parent to bring the child to a safer environment.
(k) Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child or as set forth in s. 61.13. As stated above, the best interests of the child are paramount in a family law case.
Subsection 8 of this Statute regarding relocation factors Florida provides that “The parent or other person wishing to relocate has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that relocation is in the best interest of the child.” If the parent seeking to relocate proves his/her case for the court, the burden then switches to the other parent to provide by a preponderance that relocation is inappropriate and NOT in the BEST interests of their child.
Jonathan Jacobs is a divorce attorney in Orlando.