The issue of relocation can come up during a divorce or afterward, when a parenting plan is already in place. If one parent wants to move out of state or a significant distance away, it can become substantially more difficult for the other parent to exercise custody or visitation. At Grant & Sain, PLLC, in Jackson, we understand the issues at stake and will fight for your parental rights. We also see the pitfalls of being too rigid and demanding, which can ultimately damage the loving relationship with your children you’re struggling to protect. In relocation disputes, we take a prudent approach: while we represent your interests, we know that the court’s primary concern is the best interests of your children. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be aggressive when necessary, because we’re also fathers, and we’re committed to protecting our clients and their children.
Tennessee courts are required to base child custody decisions on the best interests of the child rather than the impact on either parent. So, after an initial custody order has been made, a parent who wants to relocate because of a job opportunity or to remarry will not receive special consideration from the court apart from how that new job or new marriage affects the child’s welfare. A parent who wishes to relocate to a different state, or more than 50 miles from the other parent within the same state, must notify the other parent at least 60 days before moving with the child.
The court looks at the existing parenting plan and considers all relevant factors when determining whether relocation is in the child’s best interests. Factors written into the pertinent statute, Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-108, include:
Whether you are seeking to relocate or oppose a relocation, we will advocate strongly for your children’s welfare and your parental rights.
If your ex is being vindictive in attempting to move your children far away from you, you’ve got to fight for your parental rights, and you can trust our family lawyers to work hard to see you prevail. However, most requests for relocation are not vindictive. Many are by self-centered parents giving more thought to their own happiness and projecting their views onto their children without much introspection. Others are either potentially neutral or beneficial for the child.
If the court permits relocation, it will modify the parenting plan issued during the divorce to take account of the increased distance between the noncustodial parent and the child. Generally, when you can’t present a sufficient reason for opposing relocation, the best path forward is to negotiate a modification of your parenting plan and present the agreement to the court for approval. For example, if parents have been trading off physical custody every other week, they might agree to a new plan in which one parent has children for the school year, while the other takes them for summer vacation and certain holidays. A negotiated plan allows parents — who know their situation and their children better than a court does — to control the outcome.
Reaching a negotiated solution to such an emotional issue is not easy. You need an attorney who possesses the knowledge and creativity to overcome obstacles and is determined to produce a positive outcome. When you hire us to manage your child custody or relocation dispute, that’s exactly the kind of service you get.
Grant & Sain, PLLC, in Jackson, is your local law firm for child custody and relocation disputes in West Tennessee. We serve our family law clients as we would want to be served: professionally, capably and personally. To schedule a consultation, call 731-256-7477 or contact us online.