As of July 1, 2013, when a parent of a child in Tennessee wishes to relocate out of state or more than 50 miles from the other parent, he or she must notify the other parent not later than 60 days before the move. This is a change in the mileage requirement; before July 1, the parent was required to give notice to the other parent if he or she moved more than 100 miles from the other parent. This change only applies to relocations occurring on or after the July 1 effective date. There is more to the issue of relocation than the notice requirement. Since relocation involves issues of child custody and visitation, there are times when the issue goes to court.
The relocation notice contents
In Tennessee, when the relocating parent sends the aforementioned notice to the other parent, it must contain the following:
- A statement of the intent to move
- The location of the proposed new residence
- The reasons for the proposed relocation
- A statement that the other parent may file a petition in opposition to the move within 30 days of receipt of the notice
At this point, the parents have the option of trying to come to an agreement on visitation. If the parents are not able to reach a consensus, the relocating parent must file a petition to change visitation.
Factors in considering relocation
Once the petition is before the court, the court must consider all relevant factors, including whether the relocation has a reasonable purpose, whether relocation would pose a threat of specific and serious harm to the child that outweighs the threat of harm a change in custody would cause and whether the relocating parent has a vindictive motive for relocating. A court can find that the relocating parent is moving for a vindictive purpose if that parent is attempting to put a stop to visitation between the other parent and the child.
Examples of specific and serious harm include: whether the relocating parent is attempting to take a child with a medical condition to a place where treatment is not readily available or a child with educational needs to a location where those needs cannot be adequately addressed; if the relocating parent is moving in order to take up residence with a person who has a history of child or domestic abuse or who is currently abusing alcohol or drugs; if the move could cause severe emotional detriment to the child or remove the relocating parent from a support system that he or she requires to be an effective parent; if the parent is moving to a foreign country with an inadequate legal system or a policy of not enforcing the rights of noncustodial parents, the court may also find harm.
When a court is faced with a request for relocation, the court can assess the costs of transportation for visitation purposes and consider a change in child support payments by factoring in transportation costs.
Ultimately the court must look to the best interest of the child in deciding whether to allow for relocation. This is the most important concern in most child custody and visitation determinations.
If you are a parent considering relocation or have received notice that your child's other parent wishes to relocate, you should discuss your situation with an attorney who has experience with Tennessee family law to learn about your rights.