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Tennessee Supreme Court issues ruling in parental relocation dispute

A family law case recently decided by the Tennessee Supreme Court had its beginning back in 2010 when a Clarksville couple divorced. After their split, the mom worked overseas while the dad stayed in Tennessee to attend nursing school.

During that time, he also spent more time with the couple's daughter while the mom sent financial support for the girl. In early 2012, the dad notified the mom that he intended to move with the girl to Arizona to take a nursing job there. The mom objected to the relocation.

The father petitioned a Tennessee court for permission to move with the daughter to Arizona and in fact, moved there before the trial began. At trial, the mother argued that the dad's move lacked "reasonable purpose." Afterwards, the Montgomery Court decided in her favor.

The court stated that the dad had not proved that he was to get a better job in Arizona than what was available in Tennessee and it named the mom, who was residing in Tennessee, as the primary residential parent.

The father appealed the decision, but the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's ruling. The Appeals Court held that the father's reason for moving did not meet the "reasonable purpose" standard outlined in a 2006 case and affirmed the denial of the dad's request to relocate.

However, the father appealed again, this time to the Tennessee Supreme Court. The state's high court reversed the Appeals Court and trial court decisions, stating that a trail court must allow the parent who spends the most time with the child to relocate. It did cite three exceptions, however: if the proposed move poses a threat of serious harm to the child; if the relocation is vindictive; or if the relocation lacks a reasonable purpose.

If you are a divorced parent interested in relocating, you can discuss your circumstances with a Nashville family law attorney experienced in relocation dispute litigation.

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