Can one co-parent move out of Tennessee with their children?

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2023 | Child Custody |

Sharing custody is the typical outcome of a divorce or break-up of unmarried parents in Tennessee. Unless there’s a reason to believe that shared custody would put the children at risk of harm or neglect, the courts will generally seek to keep both parents as involved with the children as possible in most cases.

Of course, family circumstances change as life evolves, which may mean that custody arrangements for affected children may require adjustment as well. If either parent wishes to move a significant distance away from their current home, for example, that decision would likely have a major impact on the rights of the other parent and their schedule for spending time with the children. As a result, it’s understandable that many parents wonder whether one parent who shares custody in Tennessee choose to leave the state and leave the other with less access to their shared children.

There are rules that apply to relocations

For a parent to lawfully move away with the children when there is already a custody order in place in Tennessee, they have to follow certain rules established in state statutes. If the move will be more than 50 miles away from the current residence where the children live or will take the family across state lines, then the parent hoping to move will typically need to notify both the other parent and the family courts about the proposed relocation at least 60 days before they intend to move.

The other parent will then have the opportunity to respond by either permitting the move or disputing that request. In a case where the parents do not agree about the necessity or appropriateness of a relocation request, a Tennessee family law judge will likely hear their case.

Judges deciding custody cases prioritize the best interests of the children. Although keeping both parents actively involved is important, economic circumstances and the proximity of different support networks can also be important considerations. A judge might decide to grant the relocation if they think it would benefit the children, or they may refuse to allow a parent to relocate with the children.

Either outcome will typically result in some changes to an existing custody order or parenting plan. Following the right steps, including responding when one disagrees with a proposed move or sending notice when proposing one, is of the utmost importance for parents seeking the best future for themselves and their children in a shared custody scenario in Tennessee. Seeking legal guidance can provide necessary clarity and support.