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Relocating After Filing for a Divorce

Life is never static and it would be impractical to expect it to remain the same. Changes can occur unprompted and at any given moment, even if you are in the midst of a divorce. So, what are you supposed to do if you need to relocate after you have filed for a divorce? When you decide to dissolve your marriage with your spouse, you will have to meet certain residency requirements, which gives your state jurisdiction over you. However, after jurisdiction is established, you might be able to leave the state temporarily or even permanently. That said, if children are involved, the situation will not be quite as easy or straightforward.

Residency Requirements

To file a complaint or petition for a divorce, you must meet the state’s residency requirements at the time, which vary from state to state. Some require a few weeks while others might require a few months. In the state of Florida, you must be a resident for 6 months prior to filing the petition for divorce. This does not mean you can live in the state for a couple of months, leave for a month, return and stay for another couple of months and expect to meet the requirements. Your residency must be continuous.

When Children Are Involved

Children add an extra complexity when one is attempting to relocate. The laws regarding moving children away from the other parent while in the midst of a pending litigation can be very complicated. Remember, when you filed for divorce, you gave your state jurisdiction over you. This jurisdiction applies to your children as well, so you will have to file an additional petition with the court to ask for permission to leave and to take your children with you.

Under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), the state where you filed for your divorce will usually maintain jurisdiction until the divorce is finalized. While there might be some exceptions to the UCCJEA, under no circumstances should you ever take your children with you before seeking the advice of an attorney and taking proper legal actions. Otherwise, this act could be considered kidnapping and irreparably harm your chances of obtaining child custody.

This matter becomes a bit simpler if you would like to relocate in the future, after the divorce is finalized. You can request a modification to your child custody agreement and, if the court determines that the move is in the best interests of the children, your request might be granted.

Other Considerations

If you and your spouse believe your divorce will be relatively simple and you are able to see eye to eye on a lot of key issues in your settlement, it might be worth it to postpone a move until the divorce process reaches its conclusion. A divorce can involve court appearances, mediation sessions, and other situations that will require your presence. Having to travel back and forth between the state in which you are divorcing and your new location can become costly, exhausting, and inconvenient, so if you think you might be able to reach a fast resolution, close this chapter first before you make a move.

If you are already certain that you want to relocate before you have even filed for your divorce, you might want to research the residency requirements and divorce laws in your new state. The laws might be more favorable in your new jurisdiction, even in matters of child custody, so you might want to consider consulting with an attorney before making any decisions.

Contact The Virga Law Firm, P.A.

If you are considering putting an end to your marriage, we understand that this is likely a difficult time for you. You should not have to go through this experience alone. At The Virga Law Firm, P.A., our team has over 40 years of combined experience, which we will put to work for you. We are dedicated to protecting your rights, regardless if your case goes to litigation or not.

Do not hesitate to reach out to us for the help you deserve! Contact our office at (800) 822-5170 to schedule a free initial consultation with a knowledgeable member of our legal team.