Category Archives: Visitation

Florida, is it time to relocate?

If you’re looking at this post, you probably know that the Florida legislature changed the rules for permanently relocating children a few years ago.  Now, the parent wishing to move the child has to follow a strict set a rules, give notice to the “noncustodial parent” (I know we don’t use that term now, that’s why I put it in quotes) and file a lawsuit in order relocate a child’s residence more than 50 miles.  You can look in Florida Statute 61.13001 for that rather complicated and technical procedure.

And even if you followed every tiny little procedure under the statute–which you better do, because missing even a little technicality can cost you your relocation–then very few of these cases were ever won, especially if the noncustodial parent was regularly exercising timeshare and was up-to-date on child support.

But along comes the Miami appellate court who may have changed everything.

In a case this past August, Dad had rotating custody (“week on/week off,” or pretty close to it), both parents were found to be excellent parents, child support was not an issue, the Guardian ad Litem (the child’s representative) recommended against the move, and the Dad’s new wife was great at helping the child with homework since the child had ADHD.  Mom wanted to move because her new husband, who was in the Coast Guard, got transferred to California.

That’s what we would call an automatic “no-mover.”  In fact, most relocation cases are automatic no-movers, especially when someone has to move because because of a spousal military transfer.  (Why marry a military person when you know you’ll have to move the kids away from your ex?)  Judges just don’t want to break up kids and parents.  It almost never happens.

But the appellate court said that it was in the child’s best interest to move, essentially because Mom would have a better financial life in California.  Interesting.  Rarely does an appellate court shock me, but this one sure did.  It’s certainly changing the way I advise clients on whether they’ll be able to move.

The other parent won’t give you visitation

There’s something I like about both the NRA and the ACLU. I know they’re such different organizations. One is considered very liberal, the other very conservative. But they have one thing in common: they don’t sit back and expect their rights to simply be handed to them. They fight for their rights. If they think their rights are being abridged or abused, they take charge. They go public. They get angry. They sue.

I get upset when someone says, “My ex won’t give me visitation!” Well, why do you expect your ex to give you your visitation. Do you think the NRA or the ACLU expects the government to just give them their rights? Visitation is a right. Sometimes rights have to be demanded. Sometimes you have to get angry. Sometimes you have to sue.

No, it’s not that the other parent didn’t give you visitation. You just didn’t take it. You are as much a parent as the other person is. You have a right to visitation. The law is pretty simple: the other parent can’t deny you visitation. If he or she does deny you visitation, you file an action to have your visitation determined by the court. And if the other parent still won’t give you visitation after a judge orders it? Watch how quickly custody changes. Maybe you agree with NRA and/or the ACLU and maybe you don’t, but there is something to be learned from them. Don’t expect your rights to just be handed to you. Go to court and demand them.