Parental Relocation Denied in Nashville, Tennessee: Nance v. Franklin

October 5, 2022 K.O. Herston 0 Comments

Facts: Mother and Father are the parents of Child, who was conceived and born in Alabama. Father moved to Tennessee before the birth, and Mother and Child followed thereafter.

Four years later, Mother and Father separated. Mother accepted the primary parenting responsibility, while Father enjoyed regular visitation.

Three years later, Mother married Stepfather, and they had two children. Mother and Stepfather planned to move to Alabama with Child and their other children.

Mother filed a petition to relocate, and Father opposed the petition.

Mother testified she lived in Alabama for 30 years before moving to Tennessee. Her extended family lives in Alabama, and she obtained a job in Alabama with a higher salary. Also, Stepfather’s family lives in Alabama, and that’s where he works.

Mother claimed Child spent little time with Father because of Father’s work schedule. She alleged that Child spent most of Father’s parenting time with his girlfriend.

Father testified he had a good relationship with Child. He said he and Child spend time together after school. He picks Child up from school and ensures that Child finishes homework, eats dinner, and plays outside.

Father testified that Child is also involved with his nonprofit—the Distinguished Black Gentlemen Association—which frequented Child’s school before the Covid-19 pandemic. The group visited the school every other Friday to meet with children who may need some extra help working through their emotions and disciplinary issues. He testified that Child attended these meetings with the members of the organization.

Father complains that Mother does not communicate with him and tends to “run the show” where Child is concerned. He was awarded a full week of visitation during Fall Break several years ago to make up the time he lost because of Mother’s refusal to comply with the parenting schedule.

Stepfather testified. Much of his testimony concerned his disdain for Father and their less than cordial relationship. Father confirmed these difficulties and his unfavorable feelings toward Stepfather.

Child, who was nine years old at the time of the hearing, also testified. He expressed concern about moving away from Father and his desire to remain in Tennessee to ensure he maintained a close relationship with both parties.

The trial court denied Mother’s petition to relocate with Child.

Mother appealed.

On Appeal: The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court.

Tennessee’s parental-relocation statute, found at Tennessee Code Annotated § 36-6-108, itemizes several factors Tennessee courts must consider when deciding whether relocation is in a child’s best interest.

The Court found no basis to reverse the trial court’s ruling:

Here, the trial court provided a detailed order with its findings for each factor. Of particular interest to the court was the feasibility of preserving Child’s relationship with Father in the event of relocation given Mother and Stepfather’s disdain for Father. The court further considered Mother’s pattern of conduct toward Father in limiting or preventing his coparenting time. Lastly, the court found that the relocation would not enhance Child’s general quality of life as evidenced by Child’s concern that the relocation would inhibit his relationship with Father. Child has enjoyed equal visitation with the parties since February 2020. Based upon these findings, the trial court found that relocation was not in the best interest of Child. The record supports the trial court’s findings and ultimate determination that the relocation was not in Child’s best interest when Mother’s assertions that Child’s quality of life would improve were speculative, at best.

The Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling.

Nance v. Franklin (Tennessee Court of Appeals, Middle Section, September 15, 2022).

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Parental Relocation Denied in Nashville, Tennessee: Nance v. Franklin was last modified: October 4th, 2022 by K.O. Herston

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