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Common Problems Faced in Long-Distance Parental Relocation

Child custody and visitation arrangements are ordered in a divorce based on the principle that a child benefits from having continued relationships with both parents. However, with time, there can be changes of circumstances, including a desire by one parent to relocate a considerable distance away from the other. Sometimes the planned move is to another state or across the country. This can create a host of problems, and court intervention may be needed to resolve them.

In Florida, court permission is required for a change of location greater than 50 miles from the child’s current residence. The Florida relocation statute sets out the procedures and factors that a court must consider in evaluating whether to grant permission in a contested case. They include the following:

  • The reasons for each parent seeking or opposing the relocation
  • The nature, quality, extent and duration of the child’s relationship with each parent
  • The age and developmental stage of the child and the likely impact that the relocation will have
  • The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-moving parent and the child
  • The child’s preference, taking into consideration the child’s age and maturity
  • Whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the child and moving parent
  • Whether the planned relocation will improve the economic circumstances of the moving parent
  • To what degree the non-moving parent has fulfilled his or her financial obligations to the other parent

These factors recognize that in certain circumstances, a child’s well-being might be improved by the proposed move, such as when the parent with primary custody would become better off financially and in terms of quality of life. But the court must balance those benefits against the reality that a long-distance move can strain the relationship with the other parent in a number of ways:

  • The cost and logistics of travel will mean that the child and the non-moving parent see each other less often than if their parents’ homes were within easy driving distance.
  • The non-moving parent will not be present at many important events and venues, such as sporting activities, school plays and parent-teacher conferences.
  • Alienation from the non-moving parent can occur, especially if the moving parent enters into another romantic relationship and perhaps remarries.
  • The child may suffer emotional and psychological harm that can impair the ability to carry on social interactions.

Although the availability of electronic communication tools like Zoom, Skype and cellphone video chatting can help lessen these negative effects, they cannot take the place of personal contact between a parent and child.

Whether you are seeking or opposing relocation, you should be prepared to present compelling arguments and evidence. Having an experienced child custody and relocation attorney at your side can help significantly.

At The Law Offices of Lawrence S. Katz, P.A, we will draw from our years of family law experience to develop a strategy to meet your goals. Contact us at 305-670-8656 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

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Lawrence S. Katz

For many years, Lawrence S. Katz has helped clients in Florida, throughout the United States and abroad. He has earned an excellent worldwide reputation for providing knowledgeable, quality representation in cross border family law matters and child abduction. He serves as counsel, co-counsel, consultant and expert witness.

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