Florida Appellate Court Reverses Order Denying Relocation of Minor Child in Custody Hearing

In Naime v. Corzo, the plaintiff appealed a final order that denied her petition to relocate to Port St. Lucie from Miami-Dade County with her minor child. The plaintiff and the defendant were married in 2002 and had the minor child in 2006. The couple separated in 2009, and the parties entered into a mediation, which resulted in a settlement agreement being signed in November 2010. The final dissolution of marriage was entered in January 2011. The terms of the mediation settlement did not discuss the relocation of the minor child.

In June 2013, the mother filed a verified petition with the court, seeking relocation. The father objected, and the lower court held a hearing, allowing the parties to provide testimony. After the hearing, the lower court denied the mother’s petition. She immediately appealed, raising three distinct issues.

The first and second grounds for appeal asserted by the mother contended that the lower court erred when it denied the petition based on the evidence provided at the hearing. The appellate court rejected this argument, finding that there was sufficient evidence in the record. The appellate court also determined that the lower court appropriately followed the factors outlined in Florida Statutes section 61.13001(7) and provided a sufficient statement of findings to supports its analysis and conclusion.

This section provides the procedure by which parents can agree for the relocation of a minor child, subject to shared custody, or petition the court for an order allowing the relocation of a child, subject to shared custody. A petition for relocation must include a variety of things, such as a description of the new residence and its geographic location, the date the move will take place, an explanation of why the parent is relocating, and a proposal for a revised time-sharing custody arrangement after the relocation is completed.

On the third ground for appeal, however, the reviewing court agreed with the mother that the lower court erred when it incorporated specific language into its order. The lower court stated that “the minor child shall not be permitted to relocate outside of Miami-Dade County, Florida.” The father did not seek such relief, and the mother did not have an opportunity to present evidence contrary to this finding. The court also concluded that this geographical restriction was contradictory to the provisions of the relocation statute.

Accordingly, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s order and remanded the case with instructions to the lower court to amend the order to omit the geographical restriction.

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