Parents who wish to relocate with their children more than fifty (50) miles from the other parent, or parents wishing to relocate outside the state, must comply with the requirements of the parental relocation statute found at Tenn. Code Ann. §36-6-108. There were several changes to the statute implemented July 1, 2018 of which relocating parents and parents opposing relocation should be aware.
Prior to July 1, 2018, parents who spent a majority of the time with their children were more likely to be allowed to relocate. It was the burden of the non-relocating parent to show the proposed relocation was vindictive or not for a reasonable purpose. There were other factors such as harm to the child that could prevent relocation. The reality was that a parent spending a majority of time with the children was more likely than not permitted to relocate.
The court applied a best interests analysis to parenting situations where parents were spending equal time, or substantially equal time, with the children. This often caused parents to seek equal time in initial parenting plans because they feared the other parent may attempt to relocate thus causing greater difficulty in reaching agreements.
Parental Relocation After July 1, 2018
The Tennessee Legislature made important revisions to the Parental Relocation statute effective July 1, 2018. The most significant change to the statute was the removal of the distinction between parents spending equal intervals of time and parents spending unequal intervals of time. The standard for granting or denying a relocation now depends solely upon the determination of the best interests of the children. This removes the disadvantage of parents spending less than equal intervals of time with children.
The Relocation Statute applies only to cases where a parenting plan or final order has been previously entered. A parent wishing to relocate out of state or more than fifty (50) miles from the other parent must send notice by certified mail not less than sixty (60) days prior to the prior to the move. The notice must contain the following:
- Statement of Intent to Move.
- Location of proposed new address.
- Reasons for the proposed relocation
- Statement that absent an agreement between the parties or an objection by the non-relocating parent within thirty (30) days of the date notice is sent the relocating parent will be permitted to relocate.
A non-relocating parent must object to the relocation. It is not enough just to tell the other parent you do not agree to the relocation, you must make a written objection. While the statute is unclear about the method of objection, the better practice is to file an objection with the court. This will cause the relocating parent to file a petition seeking relocation and the non-relocating parent must file a response in opposition to the relocation within thirty (30) days. The parties will be required to attend mediation and set the matter for trial if no agreement is reached
Deadlines, notice requirements, and general attention to detail are crucial to both parents seeking to relocate and parents wishing to prevent relocation. Contact the Law Office of David L. Scott at (615) 896-7656 for representation if you are facing a parental relocation.