It can be hard enough for divorced parents to manage the change from one household to two households after divorce, but life can get even more challenging when one parent has to make a significant move for work or family. Such life changes can require parents in Tennessee to modify child custody agreements or orders.
If a parent plans to move outside the state of Tennessee or more than 100 miles from the other parent, she or he needs to provide written notice to the non-moving parent. The notice should be sent by mail and provided 60 days before the move. The written statement of notice should contain the following:
- A statement that provides notice of the desire to move
- The location of the new residence
- The reason for the move
- A statement that informs the other parent that he or she may challenge the move by filing a petition in opposition within 30 days of receiving notice
If the parents are not able to agree to a new visitation schedule, the parent who wishes to relocate must file a petition seeking to alter visitation. When making the decision to alter visitation, the court will consider the purpose of the move, how the potential move would affect the other parent's ability to spend time with the child, costs for transportation regarding visitation and whether child support should be adjusted to reflect travel costs related to the change in visitation.
If a parent plans to move with a child and both parents spend roughly equal time with the child, the parent who wants to relocate with the child must show the move is in the child’s best interests. In Tennessee there is no presumption in favor of or against the request to relocate with a child. To determine whether the move is in the best interests of the child, the court looks at factors similar to those used to make the original child custody decision, like the relationship between the parents and the child, the mental and physical health of the parents, the child's relationship to his or her home, school and community, the preference of the child, the extent that previous visitation rights have been exercised, and other factors.
If parents do not spend equal time with the child, the parent who spends the most time with the child will be allowed to move with the child unless the court finds one of the following:
- There is no reasonable purpose for the move
- The move would present a "specific and serious harm" to the child
- The moving parent is relocating to frustrate the ability of the other parent to see the child
If you are a divorced parent and are considering a move, contact an experienced family law attorney to review your legal options.