Family Law: Tampa Judge Denies Mother and Step-Dad’s Request to Relocate Family to England

09 May

A couple of days ago, the Tampa Bay Times highlighted an interesting story regarding child custody and visitation.  This story begins with the divorce of a couple.  The children are in their early teens and living with their mom.  Although the mom has primary custody (or in today’s terminology majority time-sharing parent) the dad is very active in the lives of his children.

Next, the mom marries a man who is in the military.  This man turns out to be a really great step-dad.  He even has a cordial relationship with the children’s father.   Professionally, the step-dad is really good at what he does.  He is a Green Beret colonel assigned to Special Operations Command.  The Army wants to send him to a coveted assignment for three years in England.  There is one problem.  He will not go to England without his new family.

In Florida, when relocation becomes an issue, the first step is to see whether the parents can reach an agreement on the relocation.  In this case, the proposal advanced to the dad was the kids would spend school time in England with their mom and step-dad and summers with their dad.  Their dad was not willing to concede.  He felt that he would miss significant portions of his children’s lives.

Because the families could not agree, they took their dispute to court.  Some of the factors that a court would consider in a request for relocation include the following:  1) The relative strength, nature, quality, extent of involvement and stability of the child’s relationship with each parent, siblings and other significant people; 2) Any prior agreements between the parents; 3) The intent and good faith of each person in seeking or opposing the move; 4) Whether there’s a pattern of conduct by the relocating parent that’s meant to improve or harm the non-relocating parent’s relationship with the child; 5) The child’s age, maturity and needs; 6) How much moving, or not moving, will impact the child’s physical, educational and emotional development and relationships with both parents; 7) The quality of life, resources and opportunities available to the child and the relocating parent in the current and new locations; 8) Any alternative arrangements that would help the child maintain a relationship with the other parent; 9) Whether it’s possible and desirable for the other parent to relocate at the same time; 10) The financial impact and logistics of allowing or stopping the relocation; 11)The child’s preference, taking into consideration the age and maturity of the child

Tampa Judge Daniel Sleet denied the petition to relocate.  Judge Sleet ruled that “The evidence demonstrates that both children are very comfortable in their present environment . . .The idea of moving to Europe may be appealing to adolescents, but the reality of uprooting to another continent can be traumatic.”

Confronted with this decision, the colonel declined the assignment to England.  You have to admire someone who decided to put his new family ahead of advancing his career.

While there are circumstances that will allow for the relocation of children with the majority time-sharing parent, this ruling highlights the difficulty involved in persuading a court that relocation could be in the best interest of a child.

Source: Judge Says SOCOM Officer Can’t Take Step-kids to London


Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Uncategorized


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5 responses to “Family Law: Tampa Judge Denies Mother and Step-Dad’s Request to Relocate Family to England

  1. James R. Wirshing

    May 9, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    While I certainly am not privy to the details of this case, I also don’t believe that the judge understood the lifelong value of an overseas military assignment for the family members. I was stationed in South Korea for one year, and had my family with me for six years in England. EVERY person whom I ever spoken with, who had this experience during their youth, has spoken fondly of the exposure to “foreign” cultures.

    • Talia

      September 10, 2012 at 10:18 pm

      I agree. I am actually in a similar situation right now with this judge. He is NOT willing imo to look after the best interest in the child. I would really like to find out his background. I wonder if Sleet himself is a single father who felt he had been ‘burned’ at some point by his ex. He seems to give just to the fathers and does not consider the children. Also, Sleet was a former criminal judge who is in family court and is not patient, and treats you like a criminal in the court room. Threatens to take you to jail and yells at you. It is by far the most terrifying, upsetting, stressful position to be in the court room with this judge. I have gotten myself physically ill at the thought of going back into that court room with him and my ex.

      • Anonymous (Case pending)

        April 4, 2013 at 1:10 pm

        You can goole him. He is married wih two daughters. Not a “scorned” man as you allude. But he was appointment by Gov Scott. Enough said.

  2. Anonymous Case pending

    April 3, 2013 at 9:46 am

    This judge is awful. Just had a case that he very clearly refused to hear the problems of the case and actually scolded the mom as not being a “supermom”. Allowed no evidence admitted as the father was acting pro-se and lied under oath of not receiving evidence. This judge is an insult to the bench.

    • Rich Bradford

      April 4, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      Thanks for your comments. There are many challenges in the legal process. Sometimes the judges will make a mistake. When that happens, an attorney can look at the case and determine if a procedure is available to overturn a prior decision – i.e., vacate, reconsider, or appeal. Regarding Judge Sleet, he has been on the bench for a few years before Governor Scott came in office.


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