The Florida Statutes did not provide any guidelines for a child’s relocation until 1997. Due to this lack of statutory authority, Courts frequently struggled in deciding whether a relocating parent’s desire to move a minor child to another city or state outweighed the non-relocating parent’s desire to live within a close proximity of his or her minor child(ren). The trial courts were finally given some guidance on this issue, in 1993, when the Supreme Court entered its decision in Mize v. Mize, 621 So. 2d 417 (Fla. 1993).
In Mize, the Florida Supreme Court recognized that there is “no way to fashion a bright-line rule for determining when a move that will geographically separate a child from one of his or her parents is permissible.” The Court thereafter concluded that, in relocation cases, “trial judges need some direction” in determining” whether relocation should be permitted, and that “the best interest of the child clearly is the prime consideration.”
In 1996, the Supreme Court of Florida addressed the issue of parental relocation with a minor child for the second time in Russenberger v. Russenberger, 669 So.2d 1044 (Fla. 1996). The Russenberger decision established a rebuttable presumption in favor of relocation; however, the rebuttable presumption set forth in Russenberger was eliminated by the codification of Fla. Stat. 61.13(2)(d), which became effective on July 1, 1997.
Florida law now provides that a “relocation” with a minor child means “a change in the location of the principal residence of a parent or other person from his or her principal place of residence at the time of the last order establishing or modifying time-sharing, or at the time of filing the pending action to establish or modify time-sharing. The change of location must be at least 50 miles from that residence, and for at least 60 consecutive days not including a temporary absence from the principal residence for purposes of vacation, education, or the provision of health care for the child.” F.S. 61.13001. In Tucker v. Liebknecht, 86 So. 3d 1240 (Fla. 5th DCA 2012) the Court analyzed how to measure the 50 miles set forth in the relocation statute and held that “in the absence of a statutory or contractual provision to the contrary, the simplest and most objective method to measure the distance between two points is the straight-line or “as the crow flies” measure.”
Pursuant to the relocation statute, if one parent seeks to move to a new residence that is within the same city or a neighboring county, the move may not be an issue; however, if a parent seeks to move to another city or state that is more than 50 miles away (when measured as a straight line) from his or her current residence, court approval is required unless the move has been agreed to in writing by the parents.