Florida’s Relocation Statute Helps Prevent “Forum Shopping”

“Forum Shopping” occurs when a party attempts to choose a judge or court because they feel that judge or court will favor their position over the other party. This is looked down upon by the courts, but isn’t often addressed. There are strict rules when it comes to which judges have jurisdiction, but jurisdiction over a case can change if the parties relocate.

What used to happen a lot in Florida was situations where a child’s parent would move to a state far away from the other parent and take the child with them. This would force the non-moving parent to sell their home and quit their job if they were to have a good chance to get visitation rights with their child.

People complained to the Florida Legislature and to address the issue they proposed and passed Florida Statute 61.13001 which permits a judge to enter an injunction against a party moving move than 50 miles from the other parent. If court permission to move is not granted and a move still occurs, the court can order the return of the child to the jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, many people are unaware the statute exists and when too much time passes, the jurisdiction over the child may change to the new state. As the saying goes, “If you sit on your rights, you lose them.” Meaning that you must take action if you wish to preserve your right to claim something or else you lose that right.

Personally, I have seen too many children’s relationships with their parents damaged by the other parent’s inability to cope with the strong negative emotions they have for their ex. Many people want to take their children away and start a new life. Unfortunate as it is, a child is part of both parents and though the other parent may seem terrible at the job, it takes an impartial judicial system to determine what role that person should have in the child’s life.

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