Relocations with Children: Panel Discussion

On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Relocation on Wednesday, February 19, 2014.

I recently was asked to speak on a panel at the Family Court Services, Lunch and Learn lecture series on the topic of divorce: Tough Choices. Can Children Win? If you were one of the 90 or so registered attendees, you had an opportunity to hear from a panel of experts in the legal, judicial and psychological fields on cutting edge issues in relocations. If you didn’t, here are some of the take away points:

Florida’s Relocation Statute is Highly Technical

Relocations, unlike much of family law, are highly technical. They involve fast deadlines, mandatory language, detailed service of pleading rules, font size requirements, detailed pleadings, and the list goes on.

Judges and lawyers report that lawyers are frequently overlooking key provisions of the statute, and children are losing in relocation cases because these strict pleading requirements and deadlines are not being met.

Florida’s Relocation Statute has an Intricate 11 Factor Analysis

There is no presumption in Florida anymore on whether you can move away with your child more than 50 miles from your principal residence for more than 60 days. That was the old rule.

Instead, courts must evaluate a relocation request based on 10 detailed and objective factors, and one catch-all factor. These factors cross over between legal standards developed over many decades litigation, and many psychological factors. The test begs the question of what kind of team do you need to assemble on your side to successfully relocate with your child in Florida.

Relocations with Children Involves Risk

There is always a probability of harm associated with relocations. Your child could face difficulties in adjusting to a new environment, or have developmental needs which are impacted. Or, they simply are baseball fanatics and a move to a country without a baseball league could be devastating.

Factors such as the age of the child, the distance of the relocation from the non-relocating parent, the stability of the parents, the level of involvement of both parents in the child’s upbringing, substance abuse, parental alienation syndrome, and other conflicts all are factored into a decision to relocate.

The clear take-away from the presentation was that relocations involve difficult decisions, courts are required to balance several psychological and legal factors, and the statute governing relocations in Florida must be strictly followed.

The event was hosted at the Family Law Courthouse, and was sponsored by Family Court Services. Kidside is a not for profit organization devoted to supporting Family Court Services. Kidside’s website is here if you are looking to support this great organization.