What is the Parent Relocation Statute?

By Jedidiah McKeehan

The parental visitation agreement is one of the most important parts of a divorce settlement. But what happens when one parent moves away? And what if that parent is the person who keeps the child the majority of the time?

The Parent Relocation Statute (Tenn. Code Ann. §36-6-108) states that when one parent is either moving 50 miles or more away from where the child lives now or is moving out of state, the relocating parent must send a notice to the other parent no later than 60 days prior to the move.  The reason for this notice is so that the parent who isn’t moving, can object to the move with the court if they so desire.

So, what does this mean for visitation rights?

Once the notice has been received, the parents are in a position to negotiate a new parent time schedule that reasonably accommodates everyone’s needs, taking in consideration all relevant factors, including costs of transporting the child for visitation.  But keep in mind, with the parents not living in the same location, it may be impossible to reach an agreement that both parties find acceptable.

When a new agreement cannot be reached, the judge must decide whether he will allow the party desiring to move, to, in fact, move.

What if the person who has the majority of the time with the children (what is called, “the primary residential parent”) wants to move?  Do they automatically get to move?

Not necessarily, however, the parent who is not moving needs to typically have 157 days of visitation with the children to be confident about defeating a possible move by the other parent, but that isn’t always the case.  Every case is different, and the judge is always able to rule how they see fit and will take in to account, the age of the children, the relationship with the parents, and the reason for the move, as well as many other factors.

If you have a parenting plan in place in regard to your children and you are thinking about relocating, these are some things to consider.

Jedidiah McKeehan is an attorney practicing in Knox County and surrounding counties.  He works in many areas, including criminal, personal injury, landlord-tenant, probate, and estate planning. Visit attorney-knoxville.com for more information about this legal issue and other legal issues.

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