What Happens If I Relocate my Child Without a Court Order?

Florida has a very specific statute that, in general, prevents a parent from relocating a child more than 50 miles away from the other parent without a court order. On rare occasions, some parents simply ignore the statute and move the minor child without the court’s approval or the approval of the other parent. The penalties of that action could be severe. A mother in a recent Fifth District Court of Appeals Case found out the hard way the Court’s severe penalties. In Fetzer v. Evans, the Mother unilaterally moved the parties minor child to Indiana. She did not seek a court’s permission before doing so. Additionally, she did not have the Father’s permission to relocate the child either.

The trial court in the case held a hearing on the Father’s Motion for Contempt and ordered that the Mother bring the child back. The Florida Statute provides allows the court to order the immediate return of the minor child. Further, the fact that you unilaterally relocate without permission from the Father or the Court can be used against you in any future change of time sharing proceeding. The unilateral remove of a minor child can look very bad against you in front of a judge. It is generally my advice that you never relocate with a written agreement from the other parent or consent of the Court. If you are contemplating a move, for any reason, it is best that you do not unilaterally move. It is imperative that you contact your expert family law attorney to discuss your legal rights and responsibilities. Often times, it might take several months for you to get a hearing on your request to relocate. It is important that you seek the advice of a lawyer well in advance of your anticipated date of relocation. That way the attorney has plenty of time to prepare, file the appropriate pleadings and get a hearing set. Failing to follow the statutory requirements for relocation can very easily result in an order directing you to return the minor child to Florida immediately. There is considerable expense associated with a court order of that nature, not to mention the negative implications that it may have on your case in the future.