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How does relocation impact child custody and parenting time?

On Behalf of | Aug 22, 2023 | Child Custody

For Tennessee couples who share a child and have ended their relationship, they still need to work together as much as possible to ensure the child is cared for. That includes spending time with both parents.

However, there are times when a parent decides to relocate from where they lived at the time of the order. The law addresses relocation and both parents need to be prepared for it.

Know how the courts will handle parental relocation

Once there is a custody and parenting plan, it can be complicated if one of the parents chooses to relocate. If they are leaving Tennessee entirely or are staying in the state but moving more than 50 miles away, the relocating parent must inform the other parent at least 60 days prior to moving. An objection can be lodged within 30 days of the notice being sent.

Of course, the parents can come to an agreement on their own as to how their custody and parenting time arrangement will be updated. This is the best-case scenario and can avoid vitriol and a costly court case. Unfortunately, this is not possible in some cases.

If a parent objects, the court will return to the process it used when it decided on custody and parenting time when the parents split: the child’s best interests. It will look at various factors including:

  • the parent-child relationship;
  • the child’s age and development;
  • if the relocation will negatively impact the parent-child relationship and how to preserve it;
  • if the child has a preference and is mature enough to express it;
  • if the child’s life will be improved by the relocation; why the parent wants to relocate; and
  • other factors that affect the child.

Be prepared to find solutions for a parental relocation case

A parent deciding to relocate can be a worrisome situation. Still, there are viable solutions that can be reached if people take the time to think about how to move forward and assess the circumstances.

There might be an opening to negotiate changes to the custody and parenting time agreement to make it easier for both parents and the child.

With these types of emotionally charged family law cases, it is important to have communication not just with the other parent, but with those who are trying to help with solving the problem.

Once people are calmly discussing their goals, they can find common ground and potentially reach an amicable agreement. If that is not possible, then the case can go to court.

Regardless, people need to understand the law and be prepared to try and reach a positive result just as they did when they first parted ways.