Military Relocation Case and Child Custody

In the military, families move when the servicemember gets orders.  The permanent change of station or "PCS" is a way of life for most servicemembers and families in most branches.

Under Florida law, the court has to approve in advance any move what will result in a parent moving his or her residence by more than 50 miles.  This law has even be interpreted to apply to the minority time-sharing parent.

Our Tampa, Florida relocation attorneys know that these cases can be particularly difficult, as both parties usually feel that they should not have to go through the litigation.  We will help guide you through the process to fight for your financial security and your right to be with your children.  

We provide experienced and strategic advocacy to protect our clients' rights and the best interests of their children in relocation cases.  We can provide the legal assistance you need to advocate for family.

Relocating With Your Children

If you or your military spouse are required to relocate, you may need legal representation if you want to keep your children with you.  The Florida relocation statute governs whether a parent can change his or her residence if the move exceeds 50 miles.  The court's decision is based on whether there is a legitimate reason to move and if the decision is in the best interests of the child.

If you are planning to move more than 50 miles from your current residence, you must get permission from your spouse or file a petition for relocation.  This applies even if you have military orders.  Our attorneys will help you prepare your case and articulate to the court your reasoning for the move.

Preventing the Relocation of Children

In addition to representing parents seeking to relocate, we also represent parents interested in preventing relocation. We understand that the non-relocating parent frequently has a strong interest in making sure that their children are close. We will help you present your case to the court and address other issues involving child support and child custody.

If you have questions concerning your legal rights in a relocation case or another family law matter, contact us or call (813) 251-6222 to speak with one of our experienced attorneys.

Relocation cases are one of the most difficult parts of being a military divorce attorney. It is never easy to watch either parent be separated from their children. In many cases, there is very little room to compromise. So, both sides must be prepared to put on their best case.
— Scott P. Davis

Relocation Nuts and Bolts

There is no presumption for or against permitting a parent to relocate.  The parent 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 that burden of proof is met, the burden shifts to the nonrelocating parent or other person to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the proposed relocation is not in the best interest of the child.

The Court is required to grant an expedited hearing when a party properly requests relocation.  The Court can also permit relocation on a temporary basis, if appropriate.  

There are several procedural requirements for the parties' pleadings in a relocation case.  The petition for relocation must be verified and provide the mailing address of the new home, a home telephone number (if available), the date of the proposed move, a detailed statement of the particular reasons for the proposed relocation, and provide notice that the other party must respond and object to the petition for relocation within 20 days.

If a party attempts to relocate without following the procedure set forth in Section 61.13001, Florida Statutes, the Court may hold that party in contempt, compel the return of the child, and hold the unauthorized move against the party that attempted to relocate.  A party opposing a relocation must submit a verified objection to the petition for relocation.  The objection must recite the specific factual basis supporting the reasons for seeking a prohibition of the relocation, including a statement of the amount of participation or involvement the objecting party currently has or has had in the life of the child.

Florida Relocation Factors

Under Section 61.13001, Florida Statutes, the Court must consider the following factors in determining whether to allow a party to relocate:

  • 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 non-relocating parent, other persons, siblings, half-siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life.
  • 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.
  • The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent 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 non-relocating parent; and the likelihood of compliance with the substitute arrangements by the relocating parent once he or she is out of the jurisdiction of the court.
  • The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child.
  • Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for both the parent seeking the relocation and the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefits or educational opportunities.
  • The reasons each parent is seeking or opposing the relocation.
  • The current employment and economic circumstances of each parent and whether the proposed relocation is necessary to improve the economic circumstances of the parent seeking relocation of the child.
  • 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 seeking relocation, including child support, spousal support, and marital property and marital debt obligations.
  • The career and other opportunities available to the objecting parent or other person if the relocation occurs.
  • A history of substance abuse or domestic violence, including a consideration of the severity of such conduct and the failure or success of any attempts at rehabilitation.
  • Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child or as set forth in Section 61.13.

We can help you make sense of your legal rights if you face a relocation case.

Please continue reading to learn more about us.  If you or someone you care about is facing a military divorce or family law case, we can help.  Please do not hesitate to call us today at (813) 251-6222 or contact us online.