Tennessee Child Custody

Moving Away: Tennessee Child Custody and Relocation Laws

There could be several reasons for a custodial parent to relocate, but when a parent plans to move a child away from the other parent, Tennessee law requires strict compliance to prevent being found in violation of the law or being in contempt of court.

In this article, we’ll discuss moving away from the other parent and the Tennessee child custody and relocation laws to help you reach a better understanding of the legalities of the move before making your final decision.

What Does the Tennessee Move Away Law Require?

The Tennessee Parent Relocation Statute or “move away law” comes into play when one parent wishes to relocate the minor child more than 50 miles from the other parent’s home or outside the state of Tennessee. The statute lays out what is required when a parent wants to move with minor children.

So what does the law require? The custodial parent is free to move without the court’s approval if that move is less than 50 miles from the other parent. If that parent wants to move further or out-if-state, the law requires the parent to provide a written notice to the courts and the other parent.

The notice must meet specific requirements and be provided by certified registered mail no later than 60-days before the date of the proposed move. The other parent has 30-days after receiving the notice to file a Petition in Opposition to Move with the court. If no objection is filed with the court within the 30-days, the parent may move with the children.

The written notice must include:

  • A statement of intent to move.
  • The location of the proposed new residence.
  • The reasons for the proposed move.
  • A statement that the other parent may file a Petition in Opposition to Move within 30-days of receipt of the notice.

If the notice does not meet these requirements, the court has the right to deny the relocation. If the notice is accepted and the other parent doesn’t file the Petition in Opposition to Move, the parent can relocate with the child after 30-days.

The court can grant a relocation without a hearing, so it’s essential to follow all of the guidelines. Unless both parents agree on a schedule, the relocating parent will also need to file a petition requesting the court change the visitation schedule.

What if There is an Objection to Move Away?

The intent of the Tennessee Parent Relocation Statute is to prevent one parent from packing up and moving the child without the knowledge or consent of the other parent or the court. The statute aims at keeping the child’s best interest as the priority when determining if the relocation is appropriate.

If there is an objection to moving away, there are 2 basic analyses under the statute.

  1. Parents who spend equal amounts of time with the child: When this happens, there is no presumption of favor or against the relocation request. The court will look at whether or not the move is in the child’s best interest by:
    1. The extent by which the visitation rights have been allowed
    2. Whether the primary parent, once moved, is likely to comply with a new visitation schedule
    3. The bond between non-moving parent will still exist
    4. The stability of parents
  2. Parents who do not spend equal amounts of time with the child: The courts will look at the parent wishing to relocate to see if the move has a reasonable purpose, would pose a hard or threat to the child, or the relocating parent was acting out of vindication. If the court finds any factor, the court will determine the relocation on the following:
    1. The extent to which visitation rights have been allowed
    2. Whether the primary residential parent, once located, will comply with a new visitation schedule
    3. The bond between non-moving parent will still exist
    4. The stability of parents

What Does the Court Consider During a Relocation Hearing?

Once the statement of intent has been filed, and the Petition in Opposition to Move has been received, a court hearing will be scheduled.

During the hearing, the court will consider things like:

  • The time the parents spend with the child
  • The provisions for parenting time in the current order
  • The time each parent actually spends with the child
  • The activities each parent is engaged in with the child
  • The resources expended directly related to the care and supervision of the child

If the courts determine both parents spend equal time with the child, the court will then analyze other factors to determine whether or not to approve the relocation. Because of this, it is up to both parents to provide any documentation, witnesses, written statements, or other evidence that could help their case.

Other factors the court will consider:

  • The quality of the parent-child relationship
  • Will, the relocated parent, comply with new visitation order
  • The extent to which the parents exercised current visitation rights
  • The quality of care for the child from the custodial parent
  • The level of stability in the child’s life
  • The stability of the child’s family unit
  • Physical and mental health of both parents
  • Physical and mental health of child
  • Home, school, and community involvement of the child
  • If the child is 12-years of age or older, what their preference is
  • Any evidence of child abuse
  • Character and behavior of anyone living in either home and the child’s interaction

Ready for a consultation?

Murfreesboro, Tennessee Divorce Attorney Hunter Fowler is experienced with handling Tennessee parental relocation cases. Contact the office of Catron & Fowler today, so you don’t have to handle any child custody, child support, or child relocation battles alone.