Child Custody & Relocation Attorney in Orlando, Florida


As an experienced Orlando Child Custody Attorney, I am often called upon to assist in the resolution of relocation applications. In these economic times, many parents who have lost a job find themselves in a situation where they might be required to relocate, either for a job or even a cheaper place to reside. The law states that a custodial parent may not move a child more than 50 miles away from their current location without court approval. In these instances a parent must apply for permission to relocate. The non-custodial parent will be served with a notice that clarifies their intent to relocate to another area. For the non-custodial parent this can be a very difficult situation that he (or she) may wish to object to within the court system. Again, most Florida lawyers will first attempt to work outside of the presence of a courtroom to negotiate terms that can be submitted to the court for approval, but in the event that an agreement cannot be reached between parental parties the case will go before a judge for adjudication.

I believe it is always better for the emotional well-being of children involved in such disputes to see these things resolved outside of a courtroom. If you find yourself in a situation such as this, please come and speak with me. We can discuss your options and try to find a good resolution for all parties involved.

Effective Representation in the Most Difficult Child Custody Disputes

Orlando child custody attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary works diligently to guide our clients past the acrimonious feelings that can interfere with the negotiation of a workable parenting plan. She recognizes that an amicable agreement about time-sharing and decision-making involving a couple’s children usually benefits parents and their minor children. Attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary also understands that some scenarios tend to make reaching such an agreement more difficult. When a divorce or paternity action involves a parental relocation more than 50 miles from the moving parent’s current residence, these types of child custody cases often become contentious.

High-Conflict Parental Move-Away Cases

There are many legitimate reasons a parent involved in a divorce might want to move to another state or country, which include a better job, promotion, or support of extended family just to list a few examples. Because a non-local move by a parent with the minor children will make it more difficult for the other parent to spend time with their child, these types of child custody disputes often are hotly contested. A father left behind might believe the move is a calculated attempt to limit his access to his children.   Parental relocations often occur in the context of a divorce and pose special challenges in crafting a parenting plan that protects the rights of both parents. Florida has a special parental relocation statute that establishes the procedure for handling a parental move away.

Penalties for Unilaterally Relocating

Florida Statutes Section 61.13001 requires a parent seeking to move more than 50 miles from his or her residence for at least sixty consecutive days (excluding temporary absences for education, vacation, or health care for the child) to obtain the consent of the other parent or file a motion for permission from the court. Compliance with this statute is critically important because a parent who disregards this requirement can be subject to contempt. The court also can consider the conduct in future parenting plans and times-sharing arrangements.

Court Procedures for Parental Relocations

When a parent is going to relocate more than fifty miles from his or her residence, a Petition to Relocate must be served on the other parent (or other parties with time-sharing under existing custody orders). If you are a dad who receives this notice from mom, you should seek immediate legal advice because you have only twenty days to file a response objecting to the move. If you fail to respond, the other parent’s move with the child typically will be granted. Even if you are not opposed to the relocation, you should still file a response to protect your rights of parental decision-making and time-sharing.

Florida law does not provide a presumption for or against a relocation if the parent who wishes to move has some amount of time-sharing. The parent requesting permission to move must establish that the relocation is in the best interest of the child. The parent opposing the move then will have the burden of establishing the move is not in the child’s best interest. It is important to note that Florida courts have determined that a parent’s desire to relocate standing alone does not constitute the “substantial change of circumstances” needed to permit the judge to modify custody.

When evaluating whether to grant the relocation request, the court will consider the following factors:

  • Duration of the relationship and involvement of the nonrelocating parent with the child (or other party opposing relocation) and sibling, half-siblings, and other significant person’s in the child’s life who are not relocating
  • Preference of the child (depends on age and maturity)
  • The age, developmental stage, and needs of the child, as well as the impact on the child’s educational, emotional, and physical development (any special needs will be considered)
  • Domestic violence or substance abuse involving either parent
  • The parties’ relative employment and economic situation along with whether the relocation is necessary to improve these circumstances
  • Occupational and other opportunities available to the nonmoving parent if the relocation occurs
  • Basis for requesting and opposing the move
  • Fulfillment of financial responsibilities by the nonrelocating party (e.g. property division, alimony, child support)
  • Good faith nature of the request to move (e.g. not a pretext to interfere with the parental relationship of the other party)
  • Whether a meaningful relationship between the child and the nonrelocating parent can be maintained given financial, logistical, and other factors
  • Extent relocation will improve the quality of life of the requesting party AND the child
  • Other relevant factors

Special Issues Involving High-Profile Parents

While parental move-away cases pose difficult challenges for all parents, professional athletes, actors/actresses, professionals, CEOs, and other high-profile individuals are particularly likely to confront this issue. These types of careers often involve frequent relocation and prolonged periods away from home. Given the transient nature of housing for celebrities who must relocate for years at a time for work, high-profile parents often need an attorney experienced with parental relocation cases. Because Orlando parental relocation attorney Beryl Thompson-McClary has experience representing celebrities facing these issues, she has the creativity and knowledge needed to strive for a resolution in parental move-away cases favorable to her clients.

Contact the Law Offices of Beryl Thompson-McClary, P.A. Today

If you are concerned that your divorce or paternity case might involve complex issues that tend to be contentious like a parental relocation, we invite you to schedule a consultation with an experienced Orlando child custody move-away attorney. We have law offices in Orlando and practice in Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake, Brevard, and Volusia counties.  To schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney, you can call our office at 888-640-2999.