No law can prevent an adult from moving if she wants to. If you were divorced in Florida, you can pack up and relocate any time you like -- but you may not be able to take your children. Florida’s laws regarding the relocation of children away from their other parent are specific. You can’t move beyond 50 miles without the express consent of either your spouse or the court.
Even if you confer with your ex about your children on a regular basis, you must give him written notice if you want to move farther than 50 miles from your current home. Effective October 2008, Section 61.13001 of the Florida Code requires you to use a special form: a “Notice of Intent to Relocate With Child(ren).” You can find it on the state’s website and through county offices, and you must use it. A letter won’t suffice. You must send it to your ex-spouse and file it with the court as well.
Relocation by Consent
After you send your ex-spouse the notice, he has the option of agreeing to your move or objecting to it. If you’re moving 60 miles to the next county, he might not object. In this case, Florida law requires you to put the details of your relocation and your agreement in writing. It should be as detailed as possible, and you must submit it to the court for approval before you can move.
If your spouse does object, you might be in for a prolonged battle. He has 30 days after receiving your notice to decide what to do about it, and you can’t relocate during this time. If he doesn’t want you to move, he must file a written objection with the court within this 30-day period. The court will then place your relocation issue on the docket for a hearing. Relocation hearings are usually not settled in a single day of testimony. You'll probably have to appear in court repeatedly as a judge works toward deciding your matter.
The Court’s Decision
Florida courts are not unique in how they decide whether to permit a parent to relocate with a couple’s children -- it comes down to the best interests of your child. If you’re moving to take advantage of an amazing new job opportunity, this is in your favor. If you want to move to New Jersey because your new significant other lives there, the court will probably deny your request. One very significant factor a judge will take into consideration is your child’s relationship with her other parent. If he’s very involved in her life, a court would be less likely to disrupt that relationship by allowing her to move with you.
Under some circumstances, you may be able to extend Florida’s 50-mile radius limit. For example, if you currently live 30 miles from your ex-spouse, and the town you want to relocate to is 50 miles on the other side of his home, or a total of 80 miles from your current residence, you’d still be within 50 miles of him. A court would most likely allow this without the necessity of written notice and a court appearance. Check with a Florida attorney to be sure. If your divorce decree is dated prior to October 2006, and if it includes any provisions for parental relocation, then your decree would supersede the 2008 law. The exception is if it doesn’t mention anything about relocation. Then the procedure implemented by the Florida legislature in 2008 would apply.