Parental Relocation

Recent developments in Tennessee law regarding parental relocation are changing the court’s application of relocation requirements somewhat. That clear advantage to the parent spending the most time with the child is going away with the new relocation statute that takes effect on July 1, 2018. The Tennessee Legislature rewrote the parental relocation law so that the courts are no longer allowed to consider the amount of time each parent spends with the child when determining custody in cases where one parent desires to relocate.

If you or your co-parent need to relocate for any reason, whether it be for a job, a better opportunity, or for personal reasons, we recommend learning about this new parental relocation statute. Violating the statue could have devastating effects on your ability to relocate long-term. Retaining an experienced child custody attorney is important to ensuring the parental relocation goes smoothly. 

Collins Legal family law attorneys guide clients through the parental relocation and parenting plan modification process – whether clients are relocating themselves or the other parent is attempting to relocate. For help navigating the parental relocation process, contact our office to learn more about becoming a client. 


timely notice of parental relocation

Under the new law, parents are still required to send the written notice at least sixty (60) days prior to when they intend to relocate, whether or not they intend to move the children with them. However, now the notice must contain 1) a statement of the parent’s intent to move, 2) the location of their proposed new residence, 3) the reasons for the proposed relocation, and (here is where the first change comes) 4) a statement that “absent an agreement between the parents or an objection by the non-relocating parent within thirty (30) days of the date that the notice is sent by registered or certified mail, the relocating parent will be permitted to do so by law”.

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parental relocation notice requirements, agreements, Petitions & Court Hearings

If the parents cannot agree on a new schedule within 30 days of the said notice or if the non-relocating parent objects to the relocation, the parent who wants to move has to file a petition with the court seeking approval to relocate. Then, if the other parent objects, they have to file a response in opposition to the move within thirty (30) days. Only then will the court decide whether the relocation is in the best interests of the children, without regard for the amount of time either parent is spending with the child.

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relocation with child or without child

The new law does not differentiate between whether the relocating parent plans to move with the child or without the child. This is important, as the relocation of either parent out of state or over fifty (50) miles away – with or without the child – will certainly impact the amount of time the child is able to spend with the other parent and may make the existing parenting schedule unworkable.

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NEW parenting plan based ON court's decision

After the court goes through all of the factors to determine whether the relocation is in the best interests of the children and the court finds the move is in the children’s best interests, the court will modify the parenting plan to account for the new distance between the parties. If the court finds that the relocation is NOT in the best interests of the children, the court will create a new parenting plan that becomes effective only if the relocating parent decides to move anyway.

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parental relocation statute application

The new statute applies in cases where there has already been a permanent parenting plan or final custody order and in ongoing cases where either the child custody or divorce statutory injunctions are already in place.

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awarding attorney's fees

The new statute provides that either parent may recover their reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs from the other parent in the discretion of the court. This leaves the court free to award attorneys’ fees as they deem appropriate in each circumstance.

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what to expect

At Collins Legal, we understand the seriousness of legal family matters. The stakes of a family law case are incredibly high and often involve matters such as the rights to your children, divorce terms, or whether or not a spouse will need to pay support. Our firm is dedicated to pursuing the best interests of our clients and their families. With over a decade of experience to back us, our family attorneys in Nashville can provide legal guidance through the duration of your case—from start to finish—and aggressively secure your rights to family, support, and assets.

Our firm recognizes that every family is different. When a client comes to us, we make the effort to learn each detail of the case and craft personalized legal strategies, ensuring the best possible outcome. We take pride in instilling confidence when clients put their case in our hands.

If your case did not end well or if your situation has changed since your case was handled, Collins Legal can also handle appeal or modification cases. Things happen in life and changes sometimes have to be made. Whether you need to modify your child support due to the loss of your job or you would like to appeal for visitation rights, our family law attorneys in Nashville have the know-how to help.


Read more Child Custody and Parental Relocation information on our blog.

Interested in becoming a Collins Legal client? Learn more here.