Relocation of kids in Florida – How far is 50 miles?

On May 14, 2012, in General Family Law, by Brent Rose

Most everyone knows by now that Florida law forbids the permanent relocation of children by more than 50 miles when the parents aren’t married (including divorced parents) unless the other parent agrees in writing or unless a court agrees. If a parent wishes to move children, even if the other parent lives out of state, […]

Most everyone knows by now that Florida law forbids the permanent relocation of children by more than 50 miles when the parents aren’t married (including divorced parents) unless the other parent agrees in writing or unless a court agrees. If a parent wishes to move children, even if the other parent lives out of state, there is a complicated procedure that must be followed before children can be moved. And the failure to follow this complicated procedure can subject a parent to loss of majority timeshare (“custody”). But is the 50 miles by road or by air? Is the 50 miles as you drive or as the crow flies?

I remember discussing this when the statute was being drafted. Everyone meant to say that the 50 miles was by car. Most of us, after all, don’t travel by helicopter. But it was never specifically listed that way in the statute. (Whoops.)

So the appellate court in Orlando disagrees. They say that the fifty miles is as the crow flies, not “as the car drives.” That can be a long, long drive in a crowded, trafficky place like Tampa or Miami or, uh, Orlando. Until another appellate court disagrees–which probably won’t happen–or until the legislature changes the statute–which probably will happen–the law throughout Florida is that kids can’t be moved more than 50 miles as a compass would draw on a map.

Relocation is a complicated and tricky procedure in Florida. DO NOT try this at home (or without a lawyer). Call us if you want to relocate a child.

2 Responses to “Relocation of kids in Florida – How far is 50 miles?”

  1. Sharon says:

    oh no and and now another concern after reading about relocating. We have one child together and i will be filing for divorce this year. Our company has an office in North Carolina and i have no family in Florida. The plan is to get 1/2 between FL and my family. My soon to be ex husband agreed, via text conversation, that if the move is what i feel is best, that he would support it, although not happy about it. Is a “relocation clause” something i should look into previous to filing for divorce? Being “stuck” in Flordia with no family is not something myself or my daughter want.

  2. Brent Rose says:

    Getting permission from a judge for relocation of a child is a lawsuit all on its own, separate from the divorce, though we lawyers would probably combine them to save money. That way, you could pay one filing fee instead of two. If you want your soon-to-be-ex to agree, you should get him to sign off on a Relocation Agreement. It’s more than just a clause. Search for Florida Form 12.950a online. Better yet, get a lawyer to help you draft it. Mistakes in these forms can be drastic.

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