Restricting Relocation in a Parenting Plan

Sometimes parents will agree to restrict relocation of a minor child within a certain area. I often see agreements that prevent either parent from moving outside of Hillsborough or the surrounding counties. A recent Third District Court of Appeals case dealt with a parent who wanted to move outside a previously agreed upon restricted area with a minor child.

In Guizzardi v. Guzzardi, the parents entered into a settlement agreement that restricted the relocation of their child outside of Miami-Dade or Broward Counties. The specific provision in the Final Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage stated that “the parties shall not relocate to an area outside of Miami-Dade or Broward county with the minor child. The parties shall not permanently remove the minor child from Miami-Dade or Broward county without the knowledge and consent of the other parent.” Several years after the final judgment was entered, the Former Wife sought to move with the minor child to Lima, Peru.

The Third District Court of Appeal laid forth the relevant legal standard that the Former Wife must prove in order to request relocation. First and foremost, she must prove that there is a substantial change in the parties circumstances since the entry of the final judgment. This is not a requirement that is usually needed to plead for a relocation request. However, the parties final judgment restricted relocation pursuant to their agreement . The court held that where the final judgment incorporates a prohibition against the relocation of the child, the parent with primary residential responsibility must show a change of circumstances to justify the relocation. The second step would be for the parent to put forth evidence of all of the factors listed in Florida Statutes 61.13001 which governs relocation as well as the factors listed in Florida Statutes 61.13 which governs the best interest of the minor child. Unfortunately, the trial court’s ruling in this case that allowed the former wife to relocate to Lima, Peru was ultimately reversed by the appellate court because the trial court failed to make a finding that a substantial change in circumstances had occurred. In seeking a relocation request, it is always best to consult your expert family law attorney on how to properly plead and argue the requisite legal standard.