Editor’s note:  Since this article was written, Tennessee law regarding parental relocation has significantly changed. Please read the Parental Relocation Update for the latest information.

Parental relocation issues arise often in our increasingly mobile society.  The law has specific requirements when a parent moves outside the state of Tennessee or more than 50 miles from the other parent.  These requirements apply regardless of whether a divorce or post-divorce action is pending.   Our attorneys at Crocker·Carter·Hall are experienced in parental relocation cases, and we can help with the transition.

Parental Relocation Law in Tennessee

Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-108 requires a relocating parent who is spending time with a child to notify the non-relocating parent of his/her desire to relocate outside Tennessee or more than 50 miles from the other parent.  The notice must be sent to the non-relocating parent by registered or certified mail at least 60 days prior to the move.

The notice must include four elements:

  1. Statement of intent to move;
  2. Location of proposed new residence;
  3. Reasons for proposed relocation; and
  4. Statement that the other parent may file a petition in opposition to the move within 30 days of receipt of the notice.

If the parents cannot agree on a visitation schedule for the child(ren) in light of one parent’s relocation, then the law requires the relocating parent file a motion with the Court to establish a visitation schedule.

If the non-relocating parent does not file a petition in opposition to the relocating parent’s move, then the relocating parent is allowed to move regardless of the non-relocating parent’s objections.

Parental Relocation – What the Court Considers

The Court’s analysis of parental relocation differs depending on the amount of actual parenting time each parent is spending with the child(ren).

If the parents are “actually spending substantially equal intervals of time with the child” and the relocating parent wants to move with the child(ren), then there is no presumption in favor or against the relocating parent’s request to relocate with the child.  The Court conducts what is referred to as a “best interest” analysis and considers the factors set out in Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-106(a)(1)-(15).

On the other hand, if the parents are not actually spending equal intervals of time with the child(ren) and the parent spending the greater amount of time with the child(ren) desires to relocate, the relocating parent is permitted to relocate with the child(ren) unless the Court determines:

  1. The relocation does not have a reasonable purpose;
  2. The relocation would pose a threat of specific and serious harm to the child that outweighs the threat of harm to the child of a change of custody; or
  3. The parent’s motive for relocating with the child is vindictive in that it is intended to defeat or deter visitation rights of the non-custodial parent or the parent spending less time with the child.

If the Court determines that any of the above three factors are present, then the Court conducts a “best interest” analysis, as set out in Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-106(a)(1)-(15), when considering whether to allow the relocating parent to move with the child(ren).

If you are considering relocating outside the State of Tennessee or more than 50 miles from the other parent, you should be aware of the parental relocation laws.  Contact Crocker·Carter·Hall if you have a parental relocation issue.

RLH attorney, parental relocation

–Ryan Hall, Attorney at Law

Featured image by Lisa Risager, “Almost DoneCC BY-SA 2.0