In a recent interview, top-rated family law attorney Francis King, founder of the Law Offices of Francis King, in Nashville, TN, spoke about child relocation law in the state. —
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When asked for a comment, he said, “It’s often the case that a divorced parent will at some point explore the idea of moving to another state or county if they’ve gotten a job offer or want to move closer to family for support. Child custody issues can get heated when it comes to relocating a child. Here are some things you might want to know about child relocation law in Tennessee.”
It's important to understand the fundamentals of an initial child custody determination, according to King, before comprehending child relocation law.
“In Tennessee, when a court determines child custody in a divorce case, it is required to fashion a parenting schedule that gives each parent the maximum involvement in the life of the child that is both feasible and in the child’s best interests,” he said. Further, “Part of that determination is the decision as to which parent will be the ‘primary residential parent,’ meaning the one with whom the child or children will live for the majority of the time.” But, King says, “The other parent, called the alternate residential parent, is also entitled to have a relationship with the children even if he or she gets less parenting time.”
So, what happens then if one parent wants to relocate to another state at some time after the divorce?
King says that parents confronted with a relocation issue need to be aware of the governing Tennessee law, T.C.A. § 36-6-108), which reads in pertinent part as follows:
“If a parent who is spending intervals of time with the child desires to relocate outside the state or more than fifty (50) miles from the other parent within the state, the relocating parent shall send a notice to the other parent at the other parent’s last known address by registered or certified mail. Unless excused by the court for exigent circumstances, the notice shall be mailed not later than sixty (60) days prior to the move. The notice shall contain the following:
(1) Statement of intent to move;
(2) Location of proposed new residence;
(3) Reasons for proposed relocation; and
(4) Statement that absent agreement between the parents or objection by the non- relocating parent within thirty (30) days of the date notice is sent by registered or certified mail in accordance with subsection (a), the relocating parent will be permitted to do so by law.”
King went on to explain, “After the divorce, if one parent wants to move more than 50 miles away from the other parent, and if that other parent objects to the child relocating, the court has to decide, once again, whether the child’s best interests will be served by the proposed relocation. Just as in the initial custody determination, a court determining a relocation case has to make that best interests assessment while keeping the goal of maximizing each parent’s involvement in mind. This can be a very ricky balance to achieve”
Is it practical for parents to try to represent themselves in these situations. “I wouldn’t recommend that,” says King. “If you’re the one seeking to relocate, you have to make sure that you comply strictly with the statutory notice requirements. And if you’re the other parent, you must comply just as strictly with the objection procedure. Then, when the matter goes to court, both parents will need guidance in developing the best arguments for their positions. Anyone confronted with a relocation scenario would do well to seek counsel and representation from an experienced family law attorney.”
King elaborated, “Tennessee law contains very specific provisions about what the notice must contain, and what procedures are to be followed if the parent receiving the notice objects to the relocation. Anyone contemplating such a relocation or confronted with that possibility by the other parent would do well to engage the services of an experienced family law attorney to guide them through the process. Trying to “do it yourself” is not a good idea when there is so much at stake.
King noted that Tennessee’s relocation statute, T.C.A.
Name: Francis King
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