It’s frustrating. We know. You work hard to work out a resolution of your divorce issues, including who will have the marital home so the children have a place to live. You spend a lot of time and love crafting a parenting plan that will provide the best future for your children. And then your spouse tells you – “I’m leaving Tennessee. I’m getting married again/I got a new job. I want to take the kids with me.”
Relocation does complicate and change the relationship the parents have with their children. The good news is that Tennessee has strict requirements about when and how parenting plans can be altered if a parent wants to relocate. For starters, the parent who wants to relocate has the burden for justifying a change in the parenting arrangements.
What does Tennessee law say about relocations?
Tennessee statute Section 36-6-108 says this:
- The parent who is relocating must give the other parent timely notice. If a parent is moving more than 50 miles away or moving to another state – that parent must give the parent who isn’t moving – at least 60 days’ notice of the desire to move. The notice should include:
- A statement of intent to move
- The new address
- Why the parent is relocating
- A notice that the non-moving parent can file a petition to oppose the move – if the petition is filed within 30 days
- If the parents can’t work out a new parenting plan and a new visitation schedule, the parent who is moving must file a timely petition requesting approval of the relocation – and a change in the parenting plan. The non-moving parent, if he/she objects, must file a reply to the petition.
- If the request to move is opposed, then the court will review:
- Whether the relocation is in the best interest of the child
- The factors the court will consider in approving or disapproving the relocation include:
- The scope and nature of the relationship the child has with each parent and with any siblings
- The developmental, educational, physical, and emotional needs of the child
- The child’s preference if the child is 12-years old or older
- Any prior patterns of the relocating parent to enhance or thwart the child’s behavior with the non-relocating parent
- General quality of life issues for everyone involved
- The reasons for the relocation request
If the court approves the relocation request, the court will then modify the parenting plan based on the best interests of the child and the need to accommodate the move. The modified parenting plan will consider:
- What alternative arrangements are available
- The cost of transportation to and from the new location
- Whether there should be a change in the child support order
- Whether legal fees should be awarded
The court will review whether the move might endanger the child in any way or if there is a legitimate concern the parent may not return the child according to the modified parenting plan.
How might the parenting plan be modified?
If the parent who is relocating doesn’t want to take the child with him/her, then the parenting plan can be changed to allow for longer but less frequent visits, such as extended vacations and summer with the parent who is relocating (for example).
If the parent who is relocating has primary physical custody and does want to take the child, then the relocation is much more likely to be contested. The parent who is not relocating will likely demand, with the help of experienced Tennessee family lawyers, the right to:
- Several months in the summer
- Christmas and holiday vacations
- That the relocating parent pay for the cost of transport to the non-relocating parent
- Extended phone, internet, and communication time with the child
- Other demands depending on how far away the move is
People do need to move for legitimate reasons. On the other hand, some souses may be moving just to create complications. At LaFevor & Slaughter, our Knoxville family lawyers are skilled at handling complex family law issues. We demand that your rights be respected and that the needs of the children come first. If you a relocating or if you received a notice that the other parent is relocating, we can help negotiate a new parenting plan or litigate a new parenting plan. To discuss your concerns about your child’s welfare and your rights, call our seasoned family lawyers at (865) 637-6258 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.
Patrick Slaughter is an experienced Knoxville attorney passionate about helping families resolve legal issues including divorce, family law matters and immigration. Patrick graduated from Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law, summa cum laude and is a published author. Patrick is a member of the Knoxville Bar Association as well as the Tennessee Bar Association. Contact Patrick Slaughter at (865) 637-6258 or by filling out a case evaluation below.