For Guidance in a Variety of Legal Matters CALL TO MEET WITH ME TODAY

Is It Possible to Relocate With Children After the Divorce?

Steven C. Frazier, Attorney At Law March 17, 2023

Unhappy Father, Mother and Sad Little Daughter at HomeDivorce changes everything about family life. One home becomes two with possessions divided between them. Children find themselves with two bedrooms and carrying what they need from place to place.  

Divorce is the end of a marriage but the beginning of new lives for everyone concerned. That includes the parents who will begin making decisions about where they will live and work on their own. Sometimes, those decisions involve moving a distance from where they lived together. With custody issues and parenting time, is it possible to relocate with children after the divorce? 

As a child custody lawyer, I understand. I have helped countless parents seeking to relocate with their children and those whose ex-spouses and children are leaving them behind. You can rely on me to guide you through this transition and put your best interests and parental rights at the forefront. My firm, Steven C. Frazier, Attorney At Law, proudly serves clients in Kingsport, Bristol, Church Hill, Johnson City, and communities throughout Northeastern Tennessee. 

Can I Relocate With My Child After Divorcing in Tennessee? 

Relocation after a divorce in Tennessee by a parent with primary custody of the child requires no notification or approval so long as the move is less than 50 miles from the child’s current residence and is not to another state.  

Remaining in the state maintains the jurisdiction of a Tennessee family court. Moreover, a move not exceeding 50 miles ensures that the noncustodial parent’s visitation and parenting time, as approved by the court, will not be compromised by distance or expense.  

If, however, you are seeking to move out of the area with the children, out of the state, or to another country, the law requires formal notification which gives the noncustodial spouse the opportunity to challenge the move.  

What Are the Notification Requirements for Relocation? 

The custodial parent who wishes to relocate with children must file with the court a notification of intent to relocate. That parent must also send the notification of intent to the other parent, by registered or certified mail sent to that parent’s last-known address, at least 60 days in advance of the intended move. The letter must provide the other parent with the new address and the reason for the relocation and advise them that they have 30 days to file an objection with the court if they wish to oppose the move.  

If the other parent has no objection, the court will approve the relocation and the parenting plan will be adjusted to protect the non-custodial parent’s relationship with the child. If the other parent does object, they will have the opportunity to produce evidence showing why the relocation does not serve the child’s best interests.  

What Does the Court Consider if My Ex Objects to the Move? 

As with all child custody and child support matters, the court’s primary consideration is the best interests of the child. Moves that a parent can prove are vindictive, place the child at risk of a non-parent with drug, alcohol, child, or domestic abuse issues, or move the child to a location where they cannot get the proper education, activity, healthcare, or special services, will not be approved by the court if there is compelling evidence presented.  

However, there are other considerations that the court will make. These include such matters as: 

  • The logistical and financial implications of the parenting plan; 

  • Preservation of the relationship with both parents; 

  • The quality of care provided by the parent who has been the primary caregiver; 

  • The stability of the family and the relationship between the parents; 

  • The physical and mental health of both parents; 

  • The stability of anyone who will be in the child’s primary residence; 

  • The child’s connections to home, school, and community; and, 

  • The child’s preference if they are 12 or older.   

The court will render a decision regarding the relocation. It could deny it, approve it, or change who has primary custody of the child.  

What Happens to Visitation After Relocation? 

Distance between parents will obviously change the parenting and visitation plan. Because the noncustodial parent will not be able to maintain an every-other-weekend and every Wednesday night arrangement, for example, the plan may be revised to provide for longer periods spent during holidays and summer vacations.  

The court’s focus on the child’s best interests includes its goal of maintaining the child’s relationship with both parents. That must be preserved in a new parenting plan.  

Get Your Child Custody Questions Answered 

This information might have raised more questions than it answered if you are a parent who wants to relocate with your child or a parent who wants to object to it. That is because every case is unique. You need a family law attorney, like me, who knows how to make your case for staying or leaving.  

If you are facing a child relocation issue after divorce in Kingsport or anywhere in Northeastern Tennessee, call Steven C. Frazier, Attorney At Law today.