Life changes quickly after a divorce, especially for newly divorced parents. You may likely move to a new neighborhood or home. You might even find yourself seeking out a new or different job. Changes like this not only have an impact on your personal life, but they may also affect your parenting plan.
This summer, the Tennessee statute governing relocation rules for divorced parents changed. An amendment was approved removing the two-tiered approach formerly in place. The amendment added an analysis for the best interests of the child or children when moves of over 50 miles away are requested.
If you receive a job offer in another state, for example, or want to move to a distant location to be closer to family, the amendment changes the process previously in place.
You must notify the courts and your ex about your intent to move
Barring an emergency move due to domestic abuse, you will need to notify the courts and your ex in writing about your intent to move. Even in emergency situations, the courts will typically need to receive notification and approve the move.
For more typical moves, such as relocation to live with family, move to a better school district or secure a new job prospect, you will need to notify all relevant parties at least 60 days prior to the move if it is 50 miles or more from the other parent.
This notification gives the other parent the opportunity to object to the move. If your ex does reject your decision to move, you will need to go to court and defend your decision. The courts can then decide whether or not to change your parenting plan. Thankfully, the law will typically support your right to relocate with your child after a divorce if it is in the best interests of the child. If the nonmoving parent does not object to the move within 30 days of notice, the other parent may proceed with the move.
Documentation is critical and convincing in relocation cases
As the parent hoping to relocate, you should document why you intend to move. Evidence of a great job offer in another state or financial statements showing that you need to return home and rebuild your life can help convince the courts that your move is necessary and serves a purpose. What is most important is that you focus on complying with state laws and your parenting plan until the relocation request gets approved. In any event, the child’s best interests will be the primary deciding factor in relocation cases.