Category: Relocation

Speaking on Panel about Relocation Next Week

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Relocation on Friday, February 14, 2014.

I will be speaking on a panel hosted by Family Court Services on Wednesday February 19th from Noon to 2:00PM at the Lawson E. Thomas Family Courthouse. Anyone who practices in this area or is interested should attend.When one parent moves away with the children from another parent more than 50 miles for more than 60 days it is called a relocation in Florida.

One of the most difficult situations facing parents and children is when a parent wants to relocate to another city. These are called relocation cases. Florida is in the Sun Belt, and is naturally a very mobile society.

Residential moves are very common among parents after divorce. Parents want to pursue new job opportunities, earn a degree, and return to their home community where parents and extended family live, or remarry.

The non-relocating parent usually opposes the child moving because it makes it very difficult to stay meaningfully involved with the child, or sustain a quality parent-child relationship. This is especially true when the moving parent wants to relocate with a very young child.

Relocation cases are very fact-driven, and call for a thorough investigation of the family’s context and circumstances. It is common to request guardians, psychological experts, social investigations, and parental responsibility evaluations in relocation cases.

Very often relocation cases raise issues of parental involvement with the child. Allegations are frequently made that one parent is trying to alienate the child from the other parent, and the parent who is feeling shut-out is alleging that the other parent is engaging in gate-closing behaviors to hinder involvement with the child.

Relocation cases are governed by §61.13001 of the Florida Statutes. It is a technical statute, with deadlines and requirements that are specifically stated and enforced. Both parents are charged with understanding its details, and are well served by a lot of preparation and sound legal advice.

For more information on the Family Court Services Unit of the 11th Judicial Circuit click here.

Relocations with a child from the Judge’s Perspective

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Relocation on Monday, August 26, 2013.

Have you ever wondered what the judge deciding your divorce case thinks?

Relocation is your right to move away from another parent with the children more than 50 miles for more than 60 days.

The Family Law Section Commentator magazine contains useful articles written by lawyers, judges and professionals. I currently serve as chair of the Commentator, and in winter’s issue, Judge Daniel H. Sleet and Jason Rice wrote an excellent article on relocation cases . . . from the judge’s point of view.

Judge Sleet is currently serving as an appellate judge on Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals, and Jason M. Rice is his Staff Attorney. Although the article is written for lawyers and professionals, anyone interested in relocation cases would benefit from reading this brief article.

So, what did Judge Sleet think was the “perfect hearing”? Consider some of the things that judge thought he needed to hear about in order to determine the best interest of the child:

A guardian ad litem or parenting coordinator to assess each parent’s relationship with the minor child, and their respective home environments.

A child psychologist or other professional to conduct individual and family counseling with the parents and child in order to form a professional opinion about the appropriateness of a proposed relocation.

Teachers from the present and prospective schools to testify about the child’s ability to transition to a new school.

Evidence of substance abuse, domestic violence, violation of timesharing agreements, lack of involvement with the child, and unpaid child support.

If you are involved in a relocation case, consider the judge’s perspective, and what evidence you can come up with to prove that moving away is in the child’s best interest, or that it is not.

Relocation: Your Right to Move Away with a Child

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Relocation on Tuesday, August 6, 2013.

What are your rights to move away from another parent with your children? We live in a mobile society, easily traveling all over the world. When you are divorce and have children though, moving away is not so easy.

In my practice I’m seeing relocation cases more and more, and 2013 was a peak year for relocation cases in my practice.

Relocation means moving at least 50 miles for at least 60 consecutive days – not including a temporary absence for vacation, education, or health care for your child.

Clients increasingly have to relocate with their children during, or right after, the divorce. Some studies estimate that up to 25% of parents move away within the first 2-years after their divorce.

These are some of the common reasons for relocating with a child:

  • New job offers
  • Work transfer
  • New spouse
    • Financial opportunities
  • Family support networks

There are two ways to successfully relocate with your child:

1. Both parents sign a written agreement consenting to the relocation, and the agreement has a time-sharing schedule, and works out the transportation arrangements.

2. If you can’t enter a written agreement, and you still want to relocate, you must file a petition to relocate and serve it on the other parent.

If you relocate without an agreement or a court order allowing you to, you can be held in contempt, the child may be compelled to return, and your relocating improperly is a factor in establishing or modifying a parenting plan or time-sharing schedule.

There is no longer a legal presumption in favor or against relocations. Instead, Florida courts have to evaluate several factors such as:

  • The age of the child
  • The child’s preference
  • The reasons for moving
  • History of drug abuse or domestic violence

Relocation cases are very emotional, fact intensive, require a lot of work very quickly, and are very high stakes. Think about it, one parent is trying to take away a child, while the other parent is trying to maintain a close bond with the child. That creates a lot of tension. Without a doubt, relocation cases are among the toughest cases we face in court.