Relocation after a divorce is not uncommon. After the divorce is final, the two parties are usually eager to get on with the next stage of their lives. However, when there are children involved, and parenting time with the other parent to consider, things can become complicated. When one or both parents are members of the military, the issue of relocation can become quite challenging. If the non-military spouse has been moving around from place to place to accommodate their spouse’s military assignments, now that the marriage is over, they may have the desire to move back home so they can be closer to family, or pursue employment opportunities. In any case, child custody considerations when one parent wants to move more than 50 miles away is always a potentially difficult decision. Being on active-duty in the military simply adds to the challenge. Working with an experienced, Knoxville family law attorney will help you understand your rights and your responsibilities in this situation.
What the law says
With regard to a parent who is a military service member on deployment and their former spouse wants to move away with their child, there is a TN state law the provides military custody protection, the Uniform Deployed Parents Custody and Visitation Act (UDPCVA) Tenn. Code § 36-7-101 et. seq. The UDPCVA addresses the many issues that affect deployed parents who are facing custody and visitation court proceeding including notifying the other parent about deployments as soon as possible, a process for making out-of-court agreements about custody and visitation, expedited proceedings for parents who are not in agreement, and a procedure to terminate the temporary custody arrangement, and the intervention of the court when the parties do not agree.
Tennessee law requires that if a parent wants to relocate outside of the state, or more than 50 miles from the other parent within the state, the parent who is planning to move must notify the other parent of their intentions at least 60 days prior to their planned move. Within 30 days of having received the notice, the other parent may file a petition to oppose the move. They can work out the new visitation schedule between them if both parties agree to the move. Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-108
If the parents are unable to agree on the move, and if one parent tries to keep the other parent from moving with the child, the court has a whole host of factors to consider when coming up with the final decision. The court must balance the best interest of the child with the parent’s freedom to live where they want to live and create a life that is best for the child. The court also wants to make sure that the custodial parent is not moving away in order to purposefully make it difficult for the other parent to spend parenting time with their child.
Under Tennessee law, military members are protected by law from having permanent custody changes made while they are away on deployment.
If you are a Service member who has questions about the process for relocating after divorce, or if you are in need of a Knoxville divorce lawyer, we invite you to contact LaFevor & Slaughter. We are happy to explain how the laws apply to your individual case, and to help you outline a course of action that serves your needs. Please call (865) 637-6258 if you have questions about how your service might affect your parenting and visitation plans.