Relocation & Divorced Military Families
It is not uncommon for divorced or divorcing parents to have disagreements about relocations and parenting time, but it is perhaps more complex when one or both parents are in the military. Being reassigned and having to move, often a long distance away, is much more common in military families, and it cannot be avoided in most cases. If you are an ex-military spouse, or if you are the spouse experiencing a permanent change of station (PCS, in military parlance), there are ways you can negotiate a visitation agreement that still preserves both parents’ rights to see their children as often as possible.
Best Interests Of The Child Above All Else
Florida’s relocation statute states that any parent looking to move with their child more than 50 miles from their current address – even those with military orders requiring them to move – must receive permission to do so either from their co-parent, or from the family court. This is required whether the relocating parent is the custodial parent or not, because either way it has the tangible ability to affect your parenting time, which in turn can affect your children.
It is critical to remember that Florida family law holds that the best interests of the child or children involved in any divorce or custody case should come first, above all else, because the state has a vested interest in ensuring its residents grow up in the best way possible. This means that if it is deemed to be in your children’s best interests to remain in their current home, a court may wind up granting you less visitation time. You must be able to show the court that your upcoming move is legitimate and any modification to visitation would also be justified and proper.
If your co-parent grants you permission to relocate with the children, or if they grant permission to a modified visitation schedule for you, then you are not required to seek the court’s permission – in these cases, most often one spouse will file for a modification of the divorce decree, and simply put any unofficial agreement on the proverbial record. If they refuse to grant permission, then you must petition the court, setting out the specific information that you have about your new location – for example, the base you will work at, and the new address of your housing, if known.
Be advised that if you do not obtain permission before relocating, it will, at best, open you up to contempt charges, and at worst, possibly lead to a more serious charge, depending on how far and how long you decide to conceal the child or children from the other parent. Florida courts take parental kidnappings very seriously, and will not hesitate to react severely, up to and including informing your commanding officer of such behavior. It cannot be urged strongly enough that you simply comply with the process and plead your case.
Call A Hollywood Military Divorce Lawyer
Changes of station are a fact of life in the military, but it can come out of nowhere, and when it does, it can wreak havoc on a previously acceptable visitation schedule. If you have gotten PCS orders and need help dealing with relocation and custody questions, contacting a Hollywood military divorce attorney is a critical step. The Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. has handled these types of cases for many years, and we are ready to try and assist you with yours. Contact our Hollywood office today for personal attention.