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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 37960
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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Hello, I am the alternative residential parent of my 12 yr

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Hello, I am the alternative residential parent of my 12 yr old daughter. Our parenting plan was agreed to in mediation in 2003 in the state of TN. I recently learned that her father and stepmother are planning to relocate 1100 miles away to Texas in order for the stepmother to take a new job. I currently live 50in VA from their present TN home. The father has mentioned his intent to move, but had not served me any kind of notice. He has also recently taken work as an over the road truck driver, and is only home on weekends, or every other weekend. The remainder of the child's time is spent with the stepmother. My daughter is very upset, and says she wants to come live with me. She is not doing well in school, and is having to bring her work here so that i can help her (because according to her) the stepmother stays in her room all the time and tells her to go away when she asks for help. My daughter and her stepmother do not have a good relationship. Given that the father is away most of the time, would this allow me to pass the standard in the TN statute that is used in relocation cases when the parents spend relitavely equal amounts of time with the child? What are my rights in a case like this, and what other factors might the court consider? Since the mediated agreement, I have completed a college degree, obtained a good job, and have purchased my own home, so I do not think my ability to care for her would be in question.
The requirements for relocation are thoroughly (and remarkably free of "legalese") explained in TN Code 36-6-108.

Among the factors that the court must consider is the "reasonable preference of the child if twelve (12) years of age or older."

The fact that the other parent does not provide the required notice, is not, by itself, grounds to reverse custody in your favor. So, if you suspect that the other parent may simply ignore the notice requirement, then you may want to bring a motion to the court to modify custody on grounds that the other parent has expressed the intent to move, but has not provided any notice as required by TN law.

Hope this helps.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Thank you for your reply. Again, can you tell me whether the father's present employment, which keeps him away from the child as explained above allows me to pass the standard applied for relocations when the parents spend a roughly equal amount of time with the child, despite the fact he is the primary residential parent? From my understanding of this code, very different weights are given to the other factors depending on whether or not this standard is met. With his current employment, he is spending the same, or possibly less time than I am with my daughter, while the remainder of the time is spent with the stepmother.
Courts steer far clear of considerations of employment where custody is concerned, because of the implication that the child is being bought and sold as an economic bargaining chip. Of course, reality is that economics plays a great part in every judge's decision, but on the record, the other parent's employment circumstance is not a primary factor that the court considers.

However, if the employment is causing difficulties for the primary caretaker in caring for the child, then the court must consider it as a relevant factor. But the consideration is not the employment -- it's the parent's exercise of his or her custodial activities that's at issue.

In my opinion, the relevant questions are: (1) whether or not the custodial parent will be able to comply with any new visitation arrangement, and (2) the child's reasonable preferences as to which parent with whom the child wishes to reside. I suggest that the other factors, while relevant, are of limited importance. My argument would be that the custodial parent is already unable to follow the existing visitation agreement, because the stepparent is actually providing custodial care -- and therefore, the court should not penalize the noncustodial parent, by effectively making a nonparent the legal custodian.

Frequently, the child's wishes are given little weight, despite the fact being part of the law. Children are extremely malleable, depending upon the parent who the child is trying to please at the time that a question of preference is asked. So, I wouldn't count on this as a strong factor. I would simply put it to the court that the other parent isn't really exercising custody at present, and moving and changing employment will only exacerbate this status quo. Therefore, you should be awarded primary custody.

Hope this helps.

NOTICE: My goal here is to entertain while educating the public about the law. I hope my answer is useful and informative to you. During our conversation, the website may ask you to rate my answer. If you rate my answer lower than the middle rating, then the website retains your entire payment, and I receive nothing. It is entirely your choice as to how you rate my answer. However, because your payment to me is in the nature of a donation/gift, rather than as compensation for any services rendered, you are entitled to know how your rating affects the final distribution of your donation.

If you need to contact me again, please put my user id at the beginning of your question ("To Socrateaser"), and the system will send me an alert. Please Click the following link for IMPORTANT LEGAL INFORMATION. Thanks and best wishes!

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