The decision to relocate and uproot a child can ultimately result in a positive or negative experience, depending upon the circumstances. Tennessee law imposes strict requirements on a parent who wants to move away with a child, however, requiring stringent compliance. Contentious disagreements obviously most commonly arise when the parents don’t live together and/or are divorced but share legal custody over one or more kids.
Since the family courts often retain jurisdiction over child custody matters, a formal legal process to modify whatever parenting plan may be in place is usually necessary. Under current law, relocation approval no longer automatically favors which parent typically spends more time with the child, however.
As of July 1, 2018, Tennessee Code § 36-6-108, the so-called move-away law, was amended such that relocation decisions are now based primarily on what meets the best interests of the child.
Whether you are the relocating parent or the parent staying behind who may or may not approve of the relocation, it is best to consult an experienced family attorney to understand your rights and the laws you must abide by.
When a legal matter involves a child, it often becomes even more important to achieve the most favorable possible outcome to their situation. With that in mind, do you need help with a parental relocation case in the Memphis area? With more than 20 years of family law experience, Shannon A. Jones, Attorney at Law, assists parents in communities all over Tennessee. When you need experienced, compassionate representation if you find yourself in a parental relocation dispute, turn to Shannon and his team for help. Call (901) 390-9041 or fill out a contact form online to schedule a consultation with us today.
Under Tennessee Code § 36-6-108(a), a parent who is spending intervals of time with a child and wants to relocate outside Tennessee or more than 50 miles from the other parent within Tennessee must send a notice to the other parent. The relocating parent’s notice must be mailed no later than 60 days prior to the planned move and must contain the following:
Statement of intent to move
Location of the proposed new residence
Reasons for the proposed relocation
A statement that in the absence of an agreement between the parents or a legal objection by the non-relocating parent within 30 days of the date notice is sent, the relocating parent will be permitted to do so by law.
When the parents can’t agree on a new visitation schedule within 30 days, the relocating parent must file a petition seeking approval of the relocation. The non-relocating parent has 30 days to object in court. If the non-relocating parent fails to respond by the 30-day deadline, the relocating parent wins by default.
When a petition in opposition to relocation is filed, the court must determine whether relocation is in the best interest of the minor child. To determine whether relocation is in the best interest of the minor child, the court must consider factors including the following:
The child’s relationships with the parent proposing to relocate, the non-relocating parent, siblings, and other significant persons in their life
The age, developmental stage, and needs of the child, as well as the impact the relocation, will have on their development, taking into consideration any of the child’s special needs
The feasibility of preserving the relationship between the non-relocating parent and the child
The child’s preference when they are 12 years of age or older, upon request (preference of older children is given greater weight than the preference of younger children)
The existence of an established pattern of conduct of the relocating parent to promote or thwart the relationship of the child and the non-relocating parent
Whether the relocation will improve the quality of life for both the relocating parent and the child
The reasons for each parent for seeking or opposing the relocation
Any other factor affecting the best interest of the child.
Many parents leave Tennessee for work-related reasons, usually because they have been offered or are seeking a better job. These same parents often struggle to get approval to relocate because of differences of opinion with the other parent about how the move will affect custody rights for their minor children.
Given these often-conflicting priorities, you will want to seek the guidance of a family lawyer for your parental relocation case. A skilled family law attorney will be able to identify all of the strongest arguments supporting your need to move, or maintaining the status quo in the alternative while protecting your parental rights.
Again, the primary goal of the relocating parent is to demonstrate that the proposed move is in the child’s best interests. A family law attorney has the know-how to present the most compelling argument for this point of view in court.
If you are hoping to relocate to another part of Tennessee or another state or are opposed to the other parent relocating because of the effect it will have on your child, you need legal representation.
Shannon A. Jones, Attorney at Law, has assisted clients with all kinds of family law issues including parental relocation matters. Keep in mind, too, that the law governing parental relocation is constantly subject to change through court interpretations; you can rest assured that Attorney Jones and his team stay on top of all the latest family law developments in Tennessee.
Our firm will be committed to helping you achieve the most favorable possible outcome in your case. We will discuss the specifics of your situation and advise you on your rights and options when you call (901) 390-9041 or reach out to us online to schedule your confidential consultation.