What happens if my spouse moved out of state with our children BEFORE the divorce?

Most people who have been through a divorce in Florida are familiar with the word relocation – moving more than 50 miles with your children once a divorce case is pending or has been completed. There is a statute in Florida, statute 61.13001, which governs relocation in Florida and sets out very specific guidelines about how this can be accomplished. What happens when one spouse moves with the children before a divorce is pending, and while the marriage is still intact?

This issue was recently brought up to the First District Court of Appeal in the case of Rolison v. Rolison. In this case, the Wife moved to Georgia in January, and the Husband filed for a divorce in February. With his divorce pleadings, he also filed an emergency motion for the return of the child, which was denied. The problem with this request was that the relocation statute did not apply. The court held that the relocation statute only applied once a case was pending, or any time thereafter.

This ruling raises the concern of what happens to the child, and does the spouse who didn’t move really lose their child? While this issue was not before the court in the Rolison case, the court did mention a possible solution. During a divorce case, a parenting plan and a timesharing schedule is established for the child. This timesharing schedule is established according to what the court believes is in the best interests of the child. The best interests standard, the court suggested, would be the best way to ensure the return of the child.