When a marriage comes to an end, the parties must resolve a number of issues during the ensuing divorce. One of the most important issues that must be addressed in the divorce is how custody and visitation with the minor children of the marriage will be handled. Ideally, custody and visitation are resolved amicably without the need to drag everyone through a contentious custody battle. Regardless of how you reach the final agreement, once that agreement is in place it is over and done, right? Not always, unfortunately. Sometimes issues relating to visitation, in particular, need to be revisited long after a divorce is final. For example, what happens if your ex has primary custody of your children and notifies you that he/she plans to move a significant distance away from you? Can a Smyrna divorce lawyer stop the move so that your right to time with your children is not compromised?
What Does Your Divorce Decree Say?
A well drafted divorcee decree will often contemplate the possibility of one of the parties relocating in the future. In that case, your first step is to read through your decree carefully and make sure you understand what the provisions in the decree dictate with regard to relocation. If the decree does not address relocation, or if you are not happy with the original terms relating to relocation, you will likely need to petition the original court to intervene.
What Does the Tennessee Relocation Law Say?
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.
- 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 the other parent may file a petition in opposition to the move within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice.
In summary, the statute requires your ex to notify you at least 60 days prior to the planned move. You then have the opportunity to file an official objection to the move with the court.
Factors the Court May Consider When Deciding Relocation Requests
If you and your ex are unable to reach an amicable agreement that resolves the relocation issue, the court will set the matter for a hearing at which both sides will be allowed to present testimony/evidence. The court, when making its decision, is allowed to consider the following factors:
(1) The extent to which visitation rights have been allowed and exercised;
(2) Whether the primary residential parent, once out of the jurisdiction, is likely to comply with any new visitation arrangement;
(3) The love, affection and emotional ties existing between the parents and child;
(4) 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;
(5) The importance of continuity in the child’s life and the length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment;
(6) The stability of the family unit of the parents;
(7) The mental and physical health of the parents;
(8) The home, school and community record of the child;
(9) 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;
(10) Evidence of physical or emotional abuse to the child, to the other parent or to any other person; and
(11) The character and behavior of any other person who resides in or frequents the home of am parent and such person’s interactions with the child.
Contact a Smyrna Divorce Lawyer
If your ex wishes to move far enough away that it will interfere with your established visitation with your child, you need to consult with an experienced Smyrna divorce lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.