Families with children face some different legal challenges, especially when one parent no longer resides in the same state. To help make the process easier for parents and for the courts, Tennessee (along with 48 other states) adopted the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), which grants exclusive jurisdiction rights to the home state of the child. In other words, if you have custody of your child in Tennessee, but your former spouse moved to Florida, he or she must apply for any modifications (as must you) to the custody order in Tennessee.
The UCCJEA can also change the jurisdiction of the court if both parents move from the original state, and if the child no longer resides in that state either. This gives the courts flexibility when it is needed most, but makes it clear that home state jurisdiction is the preferred option when possible.
Relocation in the state of Tennessee
Our state’s laws regarding relocation – the term used when a parents moves away – can be difficult to understand if you are not versed in the law. You can find the full text of the laws here, but in layman’s terms it says:
- Any parent who wishes to move more than 50 miles away, whether in state or out of state, must inform the other parent within 60 days by registered and certified mail. The relocating parents must include in the notice the:
- Statement of intent to move;
- Location of proposed new residence;
- Reasons for proposed relocation; and
- Statement that the other parent may file a petition in opposition to the move within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice.
- Unless you and your spouse can come to an agreement about visitation, the relocating spouse must file a petition with the court
- If the relocating parent wishes to move with the child, the spouse who is NOT relocating has 30 days to file an opposition order.
In all cases, the court must make a decision about what is best for the child. If the moving spouse has access to better educational facilities, or if the child might be better off in a new home in a new place, then the judge may allow the relocating parent to move with the child.
At the Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates, we understand that custody and parenting plan issues are complex and emotional enough. We can help you understand the laws regarding relocation and the UCCJEA, and help you craft a plan that works for your child and for you. Please contact our office for more information.