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There’s a common misconception among people facing divorce that if you have custody of your kids, you cannot relocate. There have certainly been some high-profile divorce cases in which one parent wants to leave the state or move far away, and the other parent fights back.

However, in Tennessee, the court must follow state laws which give the custodial parent the right to pursue his or her career or housing in a new area. Parents often can relocate with children after a divorce.

Tennessee state law allows for relocation in most cases

Typically speaking, the parent who spends more time with the child will have the right to make more decisions. That can include where the child lives, what kind of school the child attends and even what medical care the child receives. The courts will do their best to ensure that the parent who has these authorities always utilizes them with the best interests of the child in mind.

If a move results from a parent seeking a better-paying job or wanting to move to a safer neighborhood, these decisions are often made in the hope of giving the child a better future. While the non-custodial parent may not be happy about that added distance, he or she may simply need to adjust that attitude. A non-custodial parent can only seek to prevent the move in certain situations.

Non-custodial parents have rights under the law as well

State law in Tennessee is clear about when a parent can object to his or her child moving with the custodial parent. In most cases, the parent who spends more time with the child has the right to make that decision.

However, the non-custodial parent could ask the courts to prevent the move if certain criteria are met. If the parent has reason to believe that the move could pose a threat of harm to the child, that would be grounds for court intervention.

Similarly, if there is evidence that the move is a form of revenge against the non-custodial parent, the courts may step in. Documentation for this could include emails, voicemail, text messages or other communications indicating that the custodial parent intends to punish his or her ex by diminishing access to the child.

Finally, the non-custodial parent can challenge the move if there is no real reason for the move. For example, if one parent wants to leave the state of Tennessee with the child, but does not have family in the intended destination or has not secured a job, that could be grounds for a challenge as well.

Understanding how Tennessee views these parental rights and the situations in which a parent can challenge a relocation will help you make better choices after your divorce. If a parent takes a child out of state or out of the country without approval, that could end up being a case of kidnapping.