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Relocation with children after divorce

According to family law in Tennessee, a divorced parent who wishes to relocate to another city, state or country along with his or her child must convince the court that there have been significant changes in life's circumstances, which, in turn, has prompted the decision to relocate. Based on an analysis of the parent's petition, the court may permit him or her to obtain a modification in their existing parenting plan. However, relocation is often a difficult experience for many children and it is a parent's responsibility to ensure that the transition is smooth for the child.

When a parent plans to relocate, the most important consideration is the best interests of the child. In cases where parents share equal custody of a child, it may not be immediately possible to move to another state. Therefore, it is crucial for a parent to mentally prepare the child before finalizing the decision to relocate. Relocation can be traumatic for a young child, as moving typically means leaving friends and with a familiar environment, and also the scaring prospect of meeting a new set of friends. If the children are mature enough, it is important for a parent to openly discuss the relocation to understand the child's viewpoints as well.

Planning is another important aspect of any relocation decision. Identifying a school, which is on par with the child's current school and finding new babysitters are some issues a parent needs to address before relocating. In addition, a moving parent must be confident that the new place will suit everyone's needs, including job placement for the parent. This is particularly important because a judge needs to feel confident about a child's future before the request to move.

It is unavoidable that a parent needs must discuss the move with his or her former spouse. Through discussions, it may be possible for two parents to mutually agree on a parenting plan and visitation schedule that would adequately cater to the child's best interests. An open communication can reduce the chances of a conflict later on and in the process, assure the other parent of his or her continuing and harmonious relationship with the child.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Confidential: Considerations Before Relocating Your Children," Caroline Choi, June 4, 2014

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