It happens time and again.
Mother and Father move to sunny South Florida from another state.
They’re here for a year or so.
Father loves it here.
Mother is a stay-at-home mother.
Father becomes involved with other women.
Couple breaks up.
Father isn’t particularly involved in Children’s lives prior to the parents’ separation.
Mother has primary timesharing.
Perhaps Father doesn’t help much with financial support for the Children (or Mother). Perhaps he does.
Perhaps Father doesn’t help much with the Children in any respect. Perhaps he does.
Perhaps there was some history of domestic violence in the parents’ relationship. Perhaps not.
Mother yearns for the supporting network of her parents, siblings and extended family back home, where Mother and Father came from a year or so before.
Mother’s old employer has an opening that would be just perfect for her.
Mother tells Father she would like to return back home. Father can see the Children whenever he wants though.
Then Father threatens to go to court. Perhaps Father threatens worse things.
Frightened, overwhelmed, isolated and alone, Mother assembles the Children and flees to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s for a respite from a difficult situation.
Not necessarily with the intent to remain there permanently. Perhaps with it.
But, oh, it’s just so good to have some help with the Children, not to have to pinch every penny like a woman in a precarious situation, not to live among strangers, to be treated nicely, to have a pleasant home environment for the Children, to feel like maybe things could be better tomorrow, and so on.
After a couple of weeks, Mother decides to continue this comparatively idyllic existence for longer.
Mother e-mails Father with her decision.
After all, after the way Father has treated her, who can blame her? Mother thinks to herself.
Actually though, Florida’s family courts can – and often do – blame Mother.
Since 2006, an evolving Florida statute has specified a procedure a parent must follow if that parent wishes to relocate with the parents’ children.
If the other parent objects, the parent hoping to relocate must justify their goal either to the other parent’s or the Florida family court’s satisfaction.
If that parent just takes off with the couple’s children without following the statutorily specified procedure, that parent can be penalized in family court … surprisingly harshly, in fact.
It is hardly ever a good idea to just take off with your Children, even if their other parent knows exactly where you are and how to reach you and the Children.
It is far, far more prudent to follow the statutorily specified procedure if you wish to relocate with your Children.
In the meantime though, you are at liberty to move less than fifty (50) miles away without either the court’s or your ex’s permission.
That at least buys you a margin of safety.