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Important considerations about parental relocation in Tennessee

Whether you got a new job, want to be closer to family or found a deal on a dream home, you may wish to move. If you are a parent with children from a divorce, however, you need to consider your custody agreement.

In certain situations, parents wishing to relocate need to follow specific procedures outlined by state law. It's also important to be aware of a recent change in the law that reduced the distance parents can move without court approval from 100 miles to 50 miles.

What if a parent needs to move?

The law requires three steps when a parent wants to move 50 miles or more from the other parent. If this is the case, the parent requesting the move must notify the other parent. State law has specific requirements for what the notice needs to contain. In order to meet these requirements, the notice should include:

  • Intent
  • Location
  • Reason
  • Other parent's right to oppose the move

Tennessee courts tend to be strict about the 30-day time limit. If the other party does not file a petition in opposition within this period, the courts generally grant the proposed move.

What if a parent opposes the move?

If a parent opposes the move, the court generally takes two paths towards review. First, it considers whether or not both parents spend equal amounts of time with the children. Unfortunately, there is no clear rule on what amount of time is needed to answer this question. However, courts have often held that it must be over 40 percent.

If parents do not spend equal amounts of time with the children, the move will likely be granted. There are three exceptions: there is no reason for move, the move poses a threat of harm to the child that outweighs any potential benefit, or the move is vindictive in nature, intended to reduce the amount of time the child can see the other parent. The nonmoving parent needs to prove one of these three exceptions to successfully challenge the proposed move.

If the answer is yes, the court will make a determination based on an analysis using the best interests of the child standard.

Do I need a lawyer?

Custody and visitation issues can be complex. As a result, it is often wise for those navigating this area of law to seek the counsel of an experienced family law attorney. This legal professional will review the details of your case and work to protect your rights and your relationship with your child.

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