When does moving require a change in the parenting plan?


Attorney Michelle Barry explains under what circumstances the parenting plan must be modified when one of the parents move.


Attorney Tom Olsen: Welcome back, everybody. My name is Tom Olsen. The name of the show is Olsen on Law, every Saturday, 11:00 AM, right here on News 96.5. I'd like to introduce you to Attorney Michelle Barry. She specializes in Family Law, including divorce, alimony, child support and time sharing.

Hey, Michelle, welcome to the show.

Attorney Michelle Barry: Hi there, Tom thanks for having me today.

Attorney Tom Olsen: You're very welcome. Hey, I got a call from a listener. We want to get you on the line and have you answer it for us. The call was that they have been divorced for two years and now the caller is moving across on the other side of Orlando. They've got a five and seven-year-old children. They want to know, do they need to change their time-sharing plan because they're moving to the other side of town? What do you think?

Attorney Michelle Barry: Well, that's actually-- the operative phrase there is "the other side of town," because Florida has a statute that determines whether or not relocation has to go back to court. The relocation is predicated on whether or not the move is over 50 miles. Unless they have something written in their own time-sharing plan that waives that provision or they make it even a shorter distance, that's going to control whether or not you can actually just pack up and move across town without reinventing the time-sharing plan, because obviously it's going to make a difference.

As we know, living in Orlando, it takes more than an hour to get pretty much anywhere. It could be a 20-mile move across town but it might very much influence time-sharing, so the parents need to sit down and reconfigure how that's going to affect their children, especially with school, because that will change as well.

Attorney Tom Olsen: What would change about the school? I mean, what if they still stay in the same school, even if one of them decides to move across town?

Attorney Michelle Barry: Well, that can change, because depending on what the school district is, you've got your A-rated schools and you've got your not-A-rated schools. If you have a child who's going to a good school in one location, and then the other parent moves a significant distance away, they may have the option of saying, “Hey, this child would benefit from going to the other school.”

That's usually where the litigation begins because, of course, one parent doesn't want to give up where the child is attending, and the other parent wants the child to be close to them. That's usually the most common reason these cases are reopened.

Attorney Tom Olsen: In a typical time-sharing plan, does it dictate where the children are going to school?

Michelle: Yes. It usually will be stated somewhere within the parenting plan that the district where with one parent or the other will control what school is assigned. Normally, the parents live close together because that would be in the best interest of the child and, of course, for the parents to have the most time-sharing.

If you have a parent who then, for instance, gets a great job offer or whatnot, goes off town, there may be a really good school in that area as well, and then that would be something that needs to be revisited is whether or not they want to stay in the old district or allow the child to go and attend school in the new one.

Attorney Tom Olsen: I want to be clear. If the time-sharing plan says the kids would go to school in whatever district mom lives in, and mom moves across town, do they automatically then move to a different school without going to the court?

Attorney Michelle Barry: That would be the case. It's funny, I had a case very similar to that, last year, that one parent moved because they've got a great job and it totally disrupted the time-sharing. They lived right at the edge of Orlando out towards Windermere and the other parent lived on the edge of Orlando towards Apopka. It absolutely changed the school district.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Moving across town, at a minimum, require one or both of the parents to have to drive farther and longer to get the kids and drop them off. How is that handled?

Attorney Michelle Barry: Oh, with a lot of aggravation by both parents. It becomes an issue when one parent, for instance, is working different hours from the other and all of the sudden, somebody can't be there to pick up a child from school, so that is why those are very often the most commonly litigated cases post to solution, but it has to do with children, driving to schools, those are usually the touch point to end up back in front of a judge.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey, Michelle. If you've got two loving parents, equally good at parenting their children, what would be the typical time-sharing plan as far as a starting point, as far as the days of the week?

Attorney Michelle Barry: Normally, parents do want just to split their time with their children equally and of course, with logistics involving school and extracurricular, that's sometimes not possible, but a parenting plan that has worked very well for a lot of my clients is where the children know, say for instance, every Monday and Tuesday, they're at mom's house overnight. Every Wednesday and Thursday, they're at dad's house overnight. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, they're with the parent that they weren't with the previous weekend.

That way, the child knows where they are every day of the week, what house they're going to be at every night of the week. That is what the court considers in the best interest of the children.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right. Hey, Michelle, tell the listeners how they might reach you here in Orlando.

Attorney Michelle Barry: Well, my office is located in Longwood. My web address is mbarrylaw.com. My email address is michelle@mbarrylaw.com. You can also reach me by phone at 407-622-4529.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey, Michelle, thank you for coming on the show and clarifying that for us. We appreciate it.

That was Attorney Michelle Barry. She is a divorce, family law attorney right here in Orlando, actually in Longwood. If you want to reach her at her office, her phone number is 407-622-4529.