Unlike almost all other types of litigation, the terms of a final divorce decree are often revisited several times after the original order is entered by the court. The reason for revisiting the terms of a divorce is almost always tied to issues relating to the couple’s minor children. As a Murfreesboro divorce lawyer explains, for example, you will likely need to return to court if you want to move out of state with your children because you have a job opportunity.
Does Your Original Divorce Decree Address Relocation?
If you are the Primary Residential Parent (PRP), and you have a job offer out of state, you cannot simply pick up and move with your children unless you have sole custody to your children and the other parent has absolutely no legal rights to them. As that is a fairly rare scenario, it is best to assume that there are steps you must take before planning your move. The first of those steps should be to review your original divorce decree to see if it addressed the possibility of relocation. If it does mention relocation, the terms of that order apply unless changed by a new order of the court. If the divorce decree is silent on the issue of relocation, or if the terms of the decree do not allow you to relocate, you will need the other parent’s agreement or court approval in order to move out of state.
Understanding the Tennessee Relocation Law
Like most states, the State of Tennessee now has a relocation law that prohibits a parent from just picking up and moving without consulting the other parent. The law does not mean that it is impossible for you to move; however, there are steps you must take to gain court approval of your proposed move. Failing to follow the appropriate procedures could result in a contempt of court order that could result in your incarceration and could interfere with your custodial rights. Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-108 governs parental relocation, stating in pertinent part, as follows:
- If a parent who is spending intervals of time with a child desires to relocate outside the state or more than one hundred (100) 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. (Emphasis added)
- The notice shall contain the following:
- Statement of intent to move;
- Location of proposed new residence;
- Reasons for proposed relocation; and
- Statement that the other parent may file a petition in opposition to the move within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice.
The other parent has the option to agree to the move or to file an objection to the move with the court. If the other parent objects to your request to relocate, a hearing will be held at which time the court will listen to testimony and review evidence from both sides. The court is always required to make decisions based on the best interest of the child. Factors the court is allowed to consider when deciding to grant permission to relocate or not include:
- The extent to which visitation rights have been allowed and exercised;
- Whether the primary residential parent, once out of the jurisdiction, is likely to comply with any new visitation arrangement;
- The love, affection and emotional ties existing between the parents and child;
- The disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, education, and other necessary care and the degree to which a parent has been the primary caregiver;
- The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment;
- The stability of the family unit of the parents;
- The mental and physical health of the parents;
- The home, school and community record of the child;
- The reasonable preference of the child if twelve (12) years of age or older. The court may hear the preference of a younger child upon request. The preferences of older children should normally be given greater weight than those of younger children;
- Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent or to any other person; and
- The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of a parent and such person’s interactions with the child.
If you anticipate the need to obtain court approval for relocation, it is wise to consult with an experienced divorce attorney as far ahead of your intended move date as possible to ensure that you are in compliance with the law when you relocate.
Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about relocation in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro divorce lawyer as soon as possible. Contact the team at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.