Whether you have sole physical custody of your children and your co-parent has visitation rights or the two of you share custody, the decision to move some distance away may cause legal complications.
Maybe you’ve stayed near your co-parent for a time following the divorce, so your kids have been able to see their other parent or stay with them frequently. However, you’d like to make a change in the new year.
Maybe you’ve been offered a job outside of Tennessee that comes with a considerable bump in salary. Perhaps you’ve decided that it’s best to move to be closer to your family, who can help care for your kids and be a more integral part of their lives. Maybe you’ve found a town where the cost of living is lower than in Memphis, and you can afford to buy a house with a backyard and a room for each child — something you can’t afford here.
Whatever, the reason, if you’re considering relocating, even if you’re sure it will be beneficial to your children, if you plan to move 100 miles or more away, even if you remain in Tennessee, you need to provide at least 60 days advance notice to your co-parent. The same is true if you move to another state.
Your notice to your co-parent must include the address of your new home and the reason(s) you’re moving, plus notice that they have 30 days to contest the move.
If your co-parent opposes the relocation, a judge will determine whether to allow it. Judges are tasked with considering whether the move is in the children’s best interests. They’ll look at:
- The advantages for the child of moving compared with the value of continuing to remain in their home, community and school.
- The commitment of the custodial parent to complying with a modified custody and visitation schedule that will allow the kids to maintain a relationship with their other parent.
- How the kids feel about the move if they’re old enough and mature enough to weigh in (typically, at least 12 years of age).
Whether you’re the one who wants to relocate or your co-parent is, if the two of you are at odds about it, it’s essential to be prepared to present your case in court with an emphasis on what’s best for the children. Your attorney can work with you to do that.