Tennessee’s Relocation Laws and Child Custody

Tennessee’s Relocation Laws and Child CustodyRegardless of how others feel about celebrities, it is always unfortunate to hear that a couple has broken up. When the couple has children, the split is even more devastating. One of the most recent couples to announce their separation is popular singer Shakira and footballer husband Gerard Piqué. Even though the two were not married, they were in a relationship for 12 years and are parents to two boys.

One of the biggest issues that the couple will face moving forward is child custody. Even though the couple has lived in Barcelona, Shakira wants to move out of the country following the separation. A source reports that the singer has no friends or family in Barcelona, with the exception of Piqué’s family, and wants to settle into another country. This can definitely present a problem for Piqué, who obviously does not want to be separated from his children. If the two cannot come to a mutual agreement on this decision, the two are in for a nasty custody battle.

Can a Franklin, TN parent relocate out of state?

Shakira and Gerard Piqué’s situation would be every parent’s worst nightmare. Few parents would be happy to hear that the other parent has plans of moving out of the state, much less the country, and bringing their children along with them.

Tennessee law (Tenn. Code Ann. 36-6-108) has certain procedures that parents must follow before they can relocate. If parents want to move 50 miles or less away from the other parent, they are free to do so. However, if the parent wants to move out of state or further than 50 miles, the parent must submit a written notice to the court and the other parent for approval before the move can happen.

What are the written notice requirements?

The relocating parent must submit the written notice to the other parent’s address at least 60 days before he or she plans to move. The only exception where written notice does not need to be given is in cases of domestic violence. Other than those occasions, relocating parents must make sure that their written notice contains the following information:

  • A statement of the parent’s intention to move
  • The location of the parent’s new residence
  • The reasons that the other parent is moving
  • A statement allowing the other parent to file a petition to object to the move within 30 days of receiving the notice

Can the court deny a relocation request?

If a parent’s written notice is missing one or several of the requirements above, the court can deny the request to move. The court can also deny the relocating parent’s written notice based on the best interests of the child. Due to Tennessee’s parental relocation law, the court uses several factors to determine whether a parent’s relocation is in the best interest of the child.

The courts can approve a request to relocate through two methods. The first method is by approving the written notice. The second method is by scheduling a relocation hearing.

What happens during a relocation hearing?

Other than determining how beneficial the relocation would be for the child, another purpose of a relocation hearing is to determine whether each parent spends equal time with the child. If the courts determine that both parents spend equal time with the child, the courts will then consider several factors before deciding whether the relocation request should be approved.

Some of the factors that the courts take into consideration include:

  • The extent of the child’s relationship with both the relocating parent and the non-relocating parent
  • The age and developmental needs of the child
  • How the move will impact the child’s physical, emotional, and educational needs
  • The possibility of preserving the relationship between the relocating parent and the child
  • The child’s preference if the child is 12 years old
  • Whether the relocation of the child will increase the quality of life for both the relocating parent and the child
  • Whether the relocating parent has a history of undermining the relationship between the child and the non-relocating parent
  • The reasons why each parent would either support or oppose the relocation

If the courts determine that the relocating parent spends more time with the child than the non-relocating parent, the non-relocating parent can still object to the move. However, that must prove that the relocation does not serve a reasonable purpose or that the other parent is moving for vindictive reasons.

One of the common arguments that non-relocating parents use to prove that the relocation request is vindictive is by insinuating that the other parent’s relocation will cause serious and specific harm to the child. Non-relocating parents can prove that the relocation causes harm to the child in several ways:

  • Taking the child with a serious medical problem to a location that does not provide adequate treatment for the medical condition
  • Taking the child to a location that does not meet the child’s specific educational needs
  • Taking the child to live with a person who has a history of child abuse or sexual abuse
  • Taking the child away from a parent or caretaker who plays a pivotal role in the child’s emotional support and personal development
  • Taking the child to a foreign country that does not encourage and enforce the visitation rights of the noncustodial parent

At The Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, our family law attorneys do everything possible to protect the interests of our clients and their children. We aggressively fight for the rights of families in Franklin, Columbia, and Brentwood. Call us today at 615-977-9370, or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation.