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The “50-Mile Rule” Just Changed in Florida Custody Cases


One of the many factors that Florida judges consider when awarding custody is the distance between parents’ homes. While this might seem like a relatively minor detail, the distance between homes can have a major effect on custody decisions. A recent change in Florida’s family law legislation alters something called the “50-mile-rule,” and this may be of interest to parents who are seeking to modify their custody agreements.

What Is the 50-Mile Rule in Florida? 

Unlike many other states, Florida is very specific about when a distance between family homes is considered “too great.” While other states may leave this decision up to the discretion of the courts, a distance of more than 50 miles is considered to be a relevant factor that affects the child’s best interests. In other words, a parent who moves more than 50 miles away from the family home (or the child’s primary residence) runs the risk of spending less time with their child.

Under the 50-mile rule, primary custodians who want to move more than 50 miles away from the other parent must mutually agree upon the relocation. If the parents do not agree, then the matter must be settled in court – usually during a hearing.

 How Has the 50-Mile Rule Changed? 

Under a sweeping set of changes introduced recently in Florida, the 50-mile rule has been modified. Previously, relocation did not necessarily constitute a substantial change in circumstance. For a modification of custody, a substantial change must be established. This meant that even if parents moved back within 50 miles after living further away, they had trouble modifying their custody agreement to spend more time with their kids.

This has all changed thanks to a few clarifications in Florida’s new legislation. The legislation now states that if a parent moves within 50 miles of the other parent, then this should be seen as a “substantial and material change” in circumstances. In other words, this relocation can justify a change in the time-sharing schedule – presumably resulting in a more favorable schedule for the parent who decided to move back into the neighborhood. However, it’s important to remember that family courts must still consider other factors when determining a child’s best interests.

Moving back within 50 miles of the other parent may allow you to petition for a modification, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that this modification will be granted. Other factors may outweigh any changes brought upon by the relocation. Qualified attorneys can help establish that a modification serves the child’s best interests.

Where Can I Find a Qualified, Experienced Custody Attorney in Florida? 

If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced custody attorney in Florida, look no further than Steve Marsee, P.A. We know that new changes in Florida’s family law legislation can often be confusing. It may help to discuss these changes during a consultation, and you can ask any questions you might have about your own personal situation during this initial meeting. Reach out today to get started with an effective action plan.




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