Can you relocate with children after divorce?

After you and your former spouse finalize divorce and child custody, one of you may decide to move away from the Nashville area. However, taking minor children out of state after divorce requires special permission from the court.

Learn more about Tennessee’s laws governing relocation and child custody, which the state updated in 2018.

The need for notification

Except in cases involving domestic abuse, the parent who wants to move more than 50 miles from the child’s current home must provide written notification to the child’s other parent and the court. The notice must include specific language, including the date and location of the proposed move, the reasons for relocation, and instructions about how to respond to the notice with an objection.

The nonmoving parent must receive this notice at least 60 days before the planned move. He or she then has 30 days to respond before the judge will grant permission.

The objection process

The other parent can file a response with the court objecting to the move. In this case, the court will schedule a hearing to determine whether you will be able to relocate. In general, the judge will consider whether a planned move is in the child’s best interests.

If you are the parent who wants to move, you can show evidence to support the positive impact on your child’s life, whether that means better schools or a closer connection to extended family. If you object to the move, you must prove that the current parenting plan serves the child’s best interests.

Factors in the court’s best interest determination include:

  • The amount of time the child currently spends with each parent
  • The willingness of the moving parent to follow a new parenting plan after the move
  • The child’s current relationship with both parents and other family members
  • The mental and physical health of both parents
  • The child’s current involvement with school and community
  • The child’s wishes if he or she is at least 12 years old

Parents who want to move should plan ahead so they can gather evidence to support these factors in a court hearing.