Parental Relocation in Tennessee

Altering parenting plans to accommodate a move

In the past several decades, our society has become increasingly mobile, and few people stay in the same place for their entire lives. This can create problems for divorced or separated parents when the primary residential parent wants or needs to relocate. In many cases, parents in this position may alter their parenting plans or visitation schedules by agreement to accommodate the new situation without the necessity for litigation. At Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC, our lawyers have helped Nashville parents on both sides of this issue negotiate workable modifications to accommodate parental relocation. However we also stand ready to litigate for those seeking the right to relocate and those opposing relocation.

When is permission required?

Any parent who has custody of or parenting time with a minor child and who desires to relocate outside Tennessee or more than 50 miles from the other parent must give written notice at least 60 days before his or her desired relocation date. This written notice must be sent via certified mail, return receipt requested, and it must contain specific information required by statute. At this point, the parents can decide to work out a modification to the visitation schedule or parenting plan that would accommodate the move.  Otherwise, if the parent who is not relocating does not agree to the relocation, he or she may file a petition in opposition to the relocation.  Once a petition in opposition is filed, the parent who desires to relocate may not move absent court approval.

How do courts consider parental relocation requests?

If a parent files a petition in opposition, the court must decide whether to allow the other parent to relocate with the child. The exact standards that are applied depend on the circumstances of the case. When parents share substantially equal intervals of time with the child the court considers a number of factors to determine if allowing the move is in the best interests of the child.

When the parents do not share substantially equal intervals of time with the child and the primary residential parent desires to relocate, the court generally allows relocation unless certain circumstances exist:

  • The relocation does not have a reasonable purpose.
  • The relocation would pose a threat of specific and serious harm to the child.
  • The motive for relocating the child is vindictive or calculated to defeat the other parent’s custody or visitation rights.

If the court finds that one of these circumstances exists and the move would otherwise not be in the child’s best interests, it may prohibit the relocation of the child. If the parent still chooses to relocate, the court may award child custody to the non-relocating parent.

Contact us today if you or your former spouse is planning a move

With ample experience in the complexities of parental relocation issues, our attorneys at Miller Upshaw Family Law, PLLC have helped both custodial and noncustodial parents in Tennessee protect their rights and the best interests of their children. Contact us by phone at 615-391-4200 or online to schedule an in-person or video consultation at our Nashville office.