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Recent court ruling may result in easier relocations for parents

A recent opinion by the Tennessee Supreme Court could make it easier for parents who are divorced to leave the state with their children — even in situations where the other parent doesn’t agree. The decision, which was unanimous, would apply to situations in which either the mother or father has spent more time with the children than the other parent.

The court acknowledged that families and children will indeed experience sadness when a parent leaves the state with the children, and thereby separates the family. Nevertheless, the state supreme court claimed that, in drafting the law, legislators were attempting to lessen the chance of legal battles and, as such, remove discretion from judges in certain circumstances.

The opinion was made in a Clarksville case, where two parents shared a daughter. In 2010, the couple divorced, but decided to split custody of their daughter 50/50. Nevertheless, the father spent more time with his daughter because the mother was frequently away overseas for her job.

The father requested a relocation to Tucson, which was closer to his family, and where he planned to work in a hospital as a nurse — at a medical facility where the girl’s grandmother once worked. The lower court sided with the girl’s mother and ruled that the request to relocate was unreasonable.

The lower court decided that the mother would have custody. The lower court’s decision was subsequently overruled, however, and custody was returned to the father, so that the daughter will go to Tucson with him.

Divorced parents in Tennessee, who are looking to relocate out of state with their children, may have a better chance of doing so following this ruling. Before trying to relocate, however, parents are advised to check with a lawyer. Even a short vacation out of state with a child could represent a violation of a child custody order.

Source: Kentucky New Era, “Court decision could make it easier for parents to relocate,” Sheila Burke, March 17, 2017


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