Relocation and Raulerson

Many Florida residents and parents are not aware of Florida's relocation statute which limits a parent's ability to move the residence of a child more than 50 miles from their current residence.  Florida Statute 61.13001 states that relocation is only allowed through an agreement between the parents, or a court order that says that the relocation is in the best interests of the minor child.  If there is no written agreement between the parents, the Statute requires filing the proper documents and giving proper notice of the intent to relocate to the other parent.

A case was recently decided regarding the necessity of providing proper notice and filing the proper pleadings.  In the Raulerson v. Wright case, 36 FLW D810 (Fla. 1st DCA April 15, 2011), the mother of a minor child hand-delivered her "Notice of Intent to Relocate" to the father.  The notice was not sworn to or filed with the Court as required by the Statute.  The mother relocated the next day with the minor child.  The father filed a motion for return of the minor child, which was denied by the trial court Judge because the mother "substantially complied" with the relocation statute.

The father appealed the Judge's decision and the appeals court reversed the trial court.  The trial court's decision to allow the relocation because the mother "substantially complied" with the Statute was found to be in error.  The appeals court found that "when the language of a statute is clear and unambiguous and conveys a clear and definite meaning, the statute must be given its plain and obvious meaning."  By not swearing to her motion, or filing it with the Court, and adhering to the proper procedures outlined in the Statute the mother was not in compliance with the Statute and the relocation should not have been allowed. 

This case reminds us that are many rules and requirements when filing any pleadings or documents with the Courts and if they are not followed, there can be detrimental consequences.  An expert Florida family law attorney can help guide your case through the Court system because they are aware of the many nuances and statutory requirements of the law.   They can also use this knowledge to gain certain advantages in a case and keep a party opponent in compliance with the law.