On July 1, 2018, Tennessee’s new parental relocation statute became law. The main difference from prior law is that prior law made it easier for a parent to relocate if the parent who was relocating was spending comparatively equal time with a child as the parent who wasn’t moving. Prior law made it harder for a parent to relocate – if the relocating parent was spending significantly less time with the child than the other parent.
The current statute provides that any parent who wishes to move more than 50 miles away from the other parent or wishes to move to another state must send a formal notice to the parent who isn’t moving – provided there is an existing custody order and parenting plan. The notice should be sent by registered or certified mail to verity it was received. Except for emergency situations, the parent who is moving must send the notice at least 60 days before the move date – to give the other parent time to object, to try to work out an agreement, and/or to have a court hearing.
The notice must include:
- The intent to move to a new residence
- The location of the new dwelling
- The reason for the move
- A statement that the non-moving parent has 30 days from the date of the notice – to object or to agree to the move
If the non-moving parent objects, the relocating parent must file a petition seeking court approval for the move. The non-moving parent then has 30 days to file a response – otherwise, the move will be approved.
Factors in deciding whether to approve the relocation
Parents can always move to another state without seeing their child. If they want the child to be able to stay with them, the relocating parent does need court approval or an agreement. The court will consider what’s in the best interest of the child. The factors the court will consider include:
- “The nature, quality, extent of involvement, and duration of the child’s relationship with the parent proposing to relocate and with the non-relocating parent, siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life;
- The age, developmental stage, needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation will have on the child’s physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child;
- The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent and the child through suitable visitation arrangements, considering the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties;
- The child’s preference, if the child is twelve (12) years of age or older. The court may hear the preference of a younger child upon request. The preference of older children should normally be given greater weight than those of younger children;
- Whether there is an established pattern of conduct of the relocating parent, either to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the non-relocating parent;
- Whether the relocation of the child will enhance the general quality of life for both the relocating parent and the child, including, but not limited to, financial or emotional benefit or educational opportunity;
- The reasons of each parent for seeking or opposing the relocation.”
Other relevant factors may also be considered.
In determining what modified plan, if any, to approve, the court will consider other alternative arrangements. The court will also consider the transportation costs and whether the child support order should be changed too.
One very important note. Parents may recover reasonable lawyer fees and other court expenses – at the court’s discretion.
If you need to relocate due to a new job or a new relationship, you do have the right to seek modification of a current custody order. If you are concerned a parent is moving just to make things difficult for you or your child, you do have the right to contest the move. For help with any custody, parenting plan, or visitation order, the lawyers at the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates are ready to fight for you and your child. Our offices are located in Franklin, Columbia and Brentwood. Please call us 615-412-1121 or complete the contact form to arrange an appointment.