Parental Relocation In Tennessee

Many parents find it challenging to raise their children when they are not living with the other parent. Shuffling a child back and forth between two homes can be difficult even when the parents live close together. Problems increase when one parent has to move a great distance away, whether for a job, military service, housing or to be nearer to family. Parents in Tennessee should be aware of what the law says about parental relocation and child custody.

Relocation Procedure

When a parent intends to move more than 100 miles away, he or she must send written notice to the other parent informing him or her of the move at least 60 days prior to the moving date. In addition to notice of the move, the letter must contain the following information:

  • The new address
  • The intended move date
  • The reasons for the move
  • The other parent's right to object to the move

If the other parent objects to the move for some reason, he or she has 30 days from the date he or she received the notice to file an objection with the court. The parent intending to move must also file a petition with the court to modify parenting time if the parties cannot agree on a new schedule.

The court will then consider the reasons for the proposed move, the arrangements that the parent has made to foster the parent-child relationship, any increases in transportation costs for parenting time and whether to amend the child support award in light of any increased costs.

Determining Relocation

The court will assess parental relocation by the same standards as when it makes an initial custody decision. The court's preeminent concern is the best interests of the child. If the relocating parent proposes to move with the child over the objection of the other parent and the parents had been spending "substantially equal" time with the child, the court will look to a number of factors to decide whether the move is in the child's best interest. Some of those factors include:

  • Whether the moving parent is likely to comply with new visitation arrangements
  • The relationship between each parent and the child
  • The ability of each parent to provide for the child's basic needs and the extent to which each parent has been the child's primary caregiver
  • How long the child has lived in a stable environment and whether a change will disrupt it

If the relocating parent has primary custody of the child and the other parent did not spend as much time with the child, the court will grant the petition to relocate unless the court finds that:

  • The parent is moving to prevent the other parent from seeing the child
  • The motivation for the move is unreasonable
  • The move would cause "serious and specific harm" to the child

Each family's circumstances are unique, and custody decisions hinge on facts specific to individual families. If you face issues involving child custody and relocation, consult an experienced parental relocation lawyer who can discuss your options with you.