Tennessee Divorce Guide

Relocation Of A Child’s Home

Relocate your child
Relocating the child out of state or within the state

When a parent wishes to move to another state or within the state, and the distance is more than 100 miles, that parent must notify the other parent by certified or registered mail, no later than 60 days before the move, and must include the following:

  • A statement of intent to relocate
  • The specific location of the proposed residence
  • The reason for the relocation
  • A statement advising the other parent that he or she may file a petition to oppose the move within 30 days of receiving the notification

If the parents cannot agree on a new visitation schedule, the relocating parent must file a petition to change visitation. The court will consider the availability of alternative arrangements and the costs of transporting the child and determine if a change to the child support guidelines should be considered.

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If the announced relocation is challenged

In cases where the parents are spending substantially equal time with the child, the other parent may file a petition challenging the move if it is completed within 30 days from receipt of the notice. The court then considers all relevant factors including:

  • The extent that visitation rights have been permitted and exercised 
    There is a presumption in favor of the relocating parent. The non-relocating parent bears the burden to prove that the proposed relocation does not have a reasonable purpose, would pose a threat of specific and serious harm to the child, or that the relocation is designed to defeat the non-relocating parent’s visitation rights, and that the proposed relocation is not in child’s best interests.Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-108(d), (e)
  • Whether the primary custodian will comply with the new visitation agreement once out of the area
  • The love, affection and emotional ties between the parents and the child
  • The quality of care including providing food, clothing, medical care and other necessary care and the degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver
  • The continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable environment
  • The stability of the family unit and the mental health of each parent
  • The home, school and community record of the child
  • The preference of the child if the child has reached 12 years of age
  • Any evidence of emotional or physical abuse to the child, to the parent or any other person
  • The relocation not having any reasonable purpose
  • The relocation possibly posing a threat of harm or serious harm to the child that outweighs the threat to harm to the child if there is a change of custody;
  • 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 there is a chance your Ex will try to manipulate you or the kids with the visitation schedule, put an on-line Parenting Plan in place. Nothing stops the game-playing like a schedule in black and white. Simply tell your Ex that in order for the schedule to be changed, it must be discussed and agreed to; otherwise it is not changing.

Specific and serious harm to the child includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • If a parent wishes to take a child with a serious medical problem to an area where no adequate treatment is readily available;
  • If a parent wishes to take a child with specific educational requirements to an area with no acceptable education facilities;
  • If a parent wishes to relocate and take up residence with a person with a history of child or domestic abuse or who is currently abusing alcohol or other drugs;
  • If the child relies on the parent not relocating who provides emotional support, nurturing and development such that removal would result in severe emotional detriment to the child;
  • If the custodial parent is emotionally disturbed or dependent such that the custodial parent is not capable of adequately parenting the child in the absence of support systems currently in place in this state, and such support system is not available at the proposed relocation site; or
  • If the proposed relocation is to a foreign country whose public policy does not normally enforce the visitation rights of non-custodial parents, that does not have an adequately functioning legal system or that otherwise presents a substantial risk of specific and serious harm to the child. [TN Code § 36-6-108]

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