Will Leaving Florida Affect My Divorce?

A child sits in a car seat in the back seat of a car with the window rolled down

During a divorce proceeding, a spouse may obtain new employment out of state, or simply desire to move to be closer to family during such a difficult process. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the effects a possible relocation may have on your divorce. Discuss with your Florida Divorce Attorney your desire or need to relocate out of state, and they will be able to advise you of your options for relocation.

The main factor that will affect your decision to leave the state of Florida during the pendency of your divorce is the involvement of minor children. If you have no minor children between you and your spouse, your decision to relocate out of state will not affect your divorce proceedings as long as you have lived in the state of Florida for 6 months prior to filing your divorce, or you have been served within the state of Florida with the petition for divorce. If you filed the initial petition for divorce from your spouse and have lived within the state of Florida for the 6 months immediately prior to filing, you have satisfied the jurisdiction requirements necessary for the Florida courts to retain jurisdiction over both you and your divorce action. Similarly, if you were served with the divorce petition within the state, Florida would have obtained personal jurisdiction over you in the case. Therefore, after obtaining jurisdiction, the court may proceed with your case even if you later decide to relocate to a different state. Therefore, if you have no minor children, you are free to relocate, and this will have no effect on Florida’s jurisdiction over your divorce proceedings. However, you will need to properly arrange for travel to attend any necessary mediations, depositions, hearings, or trials in your case.

In contrast, if you and your spouse share minor children, your movement out of state could be difficult and prevented by court order. When there are minor children involved in a divorce proceeding, a parent is prohibited from relocating with the child over 50 miles from their primary address, for longer than 60 days, without prior approval from the other parent or court. If the other parent agrees to this relocation, a written agreement must be filed with the court. If no agreement can be reached, you will need to file a Petition to Relocate within your pending divorce case. When considering the relocation petition, the court will consider the best interest of the child. If you simply relocate without any acknowledgement from the parent or the court, you could be held in contempt of court, or be found guilty of parental kidnapping. Such convictions can result in severe legal penalties, both civil and criminal. Therefore, if you are in a divorce proceeding that involves minor children, it is important to follow the statutory guidelines before relocation.

If you are considering leaving the state of Florida for any reason during your divorce, discuss your specific situation, involving children or not, with your Florida Divorce Attorney and they will be able to advise you of the possible effects it may have on your ongoing proceedings.

Speaking to an attorney at our Florida office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-307-5211 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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