Moving with children after a Florida divorce: What you need to know

A review completed of theoretical and empirical research literature finds that relocating can have a negative impact on a child. Younger children are the most vulnerable, because a move can disrupt the establishment of attachment with each parent. Some tips can ease the parental relocation process.

Americans are known for their mobility. Each year, 16 percent move and 43 percent of those leave their current metropolitan area. Those between the ages of 20 and 34 are the most mobile; however, a move following divorce is also very common.

For example, the recent "conscious uncoupling" or divorce of Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin will likely involve a relocation. Chris Martin is reported to be considering moving back to his native England. Co-parenting across the country or continents can be tricky.

If possible divorced parents should wait until a child is two or three years old before moving. A child can better maintain a long-distance relationship when he or she is a bit older. Parenting plans can be crafted to explicitly lay out regular telephone calls, Skype or Facetime sessions and e-mail communication when a child is separated from one parent. Co-parenting over distances often requires flexibility and creativity. The children's best interest need to remain in the forefront of any decision making.

Legal requirements in Florida

Florida statute allows the parents to agree to the relocation of a child through a signed written agreement. The agreement needs to include a time-sharing schedule and transportation arrangements. In some cases, the agreement must also be filed with the court. When an ex-spouse will not agree to the relocation, an evidentiary court hearing may become necessary.

In the absence of an agreement, a parent must file and serve on the other parent a petition to relocate. The petition must include such information, such as the address of the intended new residence, the date of the proposed move, why the move is necessary and a postrelocation time-sharing schedule.

If the other parent does not file an objection, the court will generally approve the relocation. When an objection is filed, the parent who is seeking to move has the burden of proving the move in the best interest of the child. The court will generally hold an evidentiary hearing to review some of the following factors: the reason for the move, age and development of the child, relationship with each parent, child's preference and the financial or employment opportunities available in the new community.

A move with children following a divorce has additional complications. If a petition is not served properly on the other parent, the proposed move may be jeopardized. If you are considering moving from Florida with your children following a divorce, contact a Florida family law attorney to assist in filing the proper documents.