Tennessee Mother Allowed to Relocate with Child and Designated Primary Residential Parent

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Watson v. Watson

Facts

The parties were divorced in 2001, and they both lived in Lexington, Tennessee. They shared parenting time, with their child going back and forth between their homes on a daily basis. The next year, the Mother remarried and moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She then petitioned the court to be designated the child’s Primary Residential Parent, which would modify the joint custody arrangement she previously signed. In this petition, she also requested that the court allow her to move the child to Murfreesboro, and the Father objected to this move and then filed his own request to be designated the Primary Residential Parent. The reason for the Mother’s move was that she had accepted a job that paid significantly more, and had been unsuccessful in her Lexington job search, which lasted more than one year. Furthermore, the Mother testified that she chose her Murfreesboro neighborhood based on the quality of the school the child would be attending. Over the Father’s objection, the trial court found that it would be in the child’s best interest to move to Murfreesboro with the Mother, and the Mother was designated the Primary Residential Parent.

Appeal

The Father appealed the trial court’s decision, and the Appellate Court affirmed. The Appellate Court found that the Trial Court properly heard evidence about the child’s preference, the research related to Murfreesboro schools and other evidence not directly related to the Tennessee Relocation Statute.

The Tennessee Relocation Statute is found in Tennessee Code Annotated §36-6-108 and states:

“(a) If a parent who is spending intervals of time with a child desires to relocate outside the state or more than one hundred (100) miles from the other parent within the state, the relocating parent shall send a notice to the other parent at the other parent’s last known address by registered or certified mail. Unless excused by the court for exigent circumstances, the notice shall be mailed not later than sixty (60) days prior to the move. The notice shall contain the following:

(1) Statement of intent to move;

(2) Location of proposed new residence;

(3) Reasons for proposed relocation; and

(4) Statement that the other parent may file a petition in opposition to the move within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice.”

The statute goes on to explain that, if the parties cannot agree on a new parenting schedule, it is the relocating parent’s responsibility to file a petition with the court seeking to modify the visitation order.

One important thing to note is that, if parents are “spending substantially equal intervals of time with the child and the relocating parent seeks to move with the child, the other parent may, within thirty (30) days of receipt of notice, file a petition in opposition to removal of the child.”

If you are considering a relocation and would like to move with your child, or if you wish to challenge your ex’s relocation, contact our office today to set up your FREE CONSULTATION. The requirements for relocation are set forth in the Tennessee Parental Relocation Statute, and I can help you either object to a relocation or file the appropriate notice of your relocation.

Nashville family law attorney, Lauren Wilson Castles, practices family law exclusively and is the founder of the Law Office of Lauren Wilson Castles, which handles Middle Tennessee family law matters, including contested relocation matters. We serve clients in the following cities: Nashville, Smyrna, Antioch, Gallatin, Lebanon, Clarksville, Ashland City, Dickson, Franklin, Brentwood, Columbia, Spring Hill, Murfreesboro and Nolensville. These cities are not exclusive, and our office has represented clients in other areas of Middle Tennessee. Contact us today to find out if we serve your area.

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