As normal as it is for Americans in the 21st century to relocate from town to town or state to state, the decision can feel like a crisis for divorced parents sharing custody of a child.

Tennessee allows this kind of relocation under certain conditions, which means that it prohibits it under other conditions. The rules changed in 2018, and former spouses with children may want to review the new procedure.

Both parents must notify when moving

Under the new rules, when either parent makes a move of 50 miles or more within Tennessee, or a move of any distance out of Tennessee, they must notify the other parent.

The court treats both parents the same under the new rules.

By this time, the parents will already have a legal co-parenting or custody plan. It no longer matters how much time either parent spends with the child as long as the moving parent spends any time with the child. The moving parent must notify the non-relocating parent 60 days before moving or sooner.

Just as before, the notification must give the new location, the reasons for the move, and a notification/reminder that without either an agreement between the parents or an objection from the parent staying put, the relocating parent is free to go.

The court considers the child’s best interest

To decide if the proposed relocation will be allowed, the court now uses a list of factors to answer to the critical question: Would the relocation be in the best interests of the child?

Here is a rough summary of the issues raised in the full, eight-item list.

  • The overall nature of the child’s relationship with the relocating parent and the conduct history of that parent.
  • The child’s current status and needs, how feasibly the child could maintain their current relationships and the likely impact on the child’s quality of life.
  • The reasons for the relocation.
  • The child’s own preference, particularly if the child is 12 or more years old.