Can I leave the State of Florida with my children? I am not married to the Father.
Not necessarily. In the State of Florida, an unmarried Mother is the natural guardian of her children and has full custody rights and can relocate with them except in certain circumstances. Was there a court order that established or modified where the children would live and how the Father would visit with them? Is one pendiing? If the answer to either of these questions is “yes”you are not able to change your principal place of residence if your new residence will be 50 miles or more from the last residence on file with the court.
You have two options available to you:
1. Relocation by Agreement in Florida
This requires a written agreement signed by all parties who have a right of time-sharing with the child. This agreement should describe the time-sharing after the move and address any transportation issues necessary for carrying out the new time-sharing schedule. Furthemore, you should seek Ratification of the Agreement (Court Approval by Order ) from the Court that isssued the last Order of time-sharing or before which the matter is pednidng.
2. Relocation by Petition and Hearing in Florida
File a Petition under Oath requesting the relocation. This Petition must be filed at the Courthouse and served on all parties entitled to share time with the child. The Petition must describe the address and telephone number corresponding to the intended location, the date of intended move, the reasons for the move, the job letter if the move is for employment and proposal of a new time sharing schedule. Further the Petition must include the following statement in font larger than the text of the petition or at least the same size and in all caps:
A RESPONSE TO THE PETITION OBJECTING TO RELOCATION MUST BE MADE IN WRITING, FILED WITH THE COURT, AND SERVED ON THE PARENT OR OTHER PERSON SEEKING TO RELOCATE WITHIN 20 DAYS AFTER SERVICE OF THIS PETITION TO RELOCATE. IF YOU FAIL TO TIMELY OBJECT TO THE RELOCATION, THE RELOCATION WILL BE ALLOWED, UNLESS IT IS NOT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD, WITHOUT FURTHER NOTICE AND WITHOUT A HEARING.
If there is no Response or Objection, absent good cause, the Court will enter an Order allowing you to Relocate. If there is an Objection, the matter will be set for an Evidentiary Hearing or Non Jury Trial.
Be prepared! Be able to show strong valid reasons why you need to Relocate and why the move is in the best interest of the child or children involved. Be able to demonstrate how the other parent or parties entitled to share time with the child will still be able to do so and the steps you will take to ensure this.
Note – If there is no Agreement with the other parent, a Petition and Court Action is mandatory. Failure to file a Petition and serve it on the other party may result in a Contempt Action against you, may affect your current Time-sharing with the child and/or may subject you to certain Fees and Costs including Attorney fees and costs.