Mom Move Away with Kids Allowed When Dad Failed to Show Move Unreasonable
Tennessee parent relocation case summary.
Angela Slavko v. Scott Slavko – Tennessee divorce relocation granted
The mother and father in this Tennessee case were married and had two children before their 2011 divorce. The mother was named the primary residential parent, and the father was awarded 119 days of co-parenting time. The scheduled was subsequently adjusted slightly, and the father was ordered to pay child support of $388 per month.
In 2015, the mother notified the father of her intent to relocate to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As grounds for the move, she cited her desire to reside with her husband, as well as additional employment and educational opportunities. The father made a petition in opposition, and asserted that the relocation was not reasonable and not in the best interest of the children. He noted that the children had a strong relationship with his and with the maternal grandmother in Tennessee. After hearing the evidence, the trial court denied the mother the request to move. Instead, the father was named the primary residential parent, the mother was granted 65 days of co-parenting time, and the mother was ordered to pay child support of $596 per month. The mother then appealed to the Tennessee Court of Appeals.
The appeals court noted that the case was governed by the Tennessee parental relocating statute, which has different tests depending on how much time the parents are exercising with the children. In this case, the record showed that the father did not spend substantially equal time with the children, and the court turned to that portion of the statute.
Under that test, the move should be granted unless the objecting parent shows that the move does not have a reasonable purpose, that it would be harmful to the child, or that the motive for the move is vindictive. In this case, the father had argued that the move was not made for a reasonable purpose, and the court examined the evidence on that point.
The mother had cited numerous reasons for the move, including proximity to her new husband, more help from extended family in Pennsylvania, employment and education opportunities.
The appeals court noted that the father had not responded extensively to these claims. Instead, his evidence focused on how the move would disrupt the children’s relationship with their grandmother in Tennessee.
For this reason, the appeals court looked at the reasons and concluded that they were reasonable. For that reason, it held that the lower court had erred.
The Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s ruling, sent the case back for modification of the parenting plan, and taxed the costs of appeal against the father.
No. M2015-01267-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Sep. 9, 2016).
See original opinion for exact language. Legal citations omitted.
To learn more, see Tennessee Parent Relocation Statute Law.
See also Tennessee Parenting Plans and Child Support Worksheets: Building a Constructive Future for Your Family featuring actual examples of parenting plans and child support worksheets from real cases available on Amazon.com.