If you’ve relocated to Tennessee with a previous parenting plan, you may be wondering when you can get started on parenting plan modifications.
Tennessee follows the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (T.C.A. 36-6-201). That Law governs when you can file to modify custody in a state (called “jurisdiction”) and is generally the same law in most states. While analysis of jurisdiction can get complex, quickly, here are the basics:
- If you just want to enforce the old order, you can file to “domesticate” the order in Tennessee. That means that you don’t necessarily want to change anything, but you may want to ask the Tennessee court to help you get the other parent to follow the rules.
- After you domesticate the old order, you can file for a change of custody no sooner than six months after you move to Tennessee, unless there’s an emergency.
- If you file at six months, the Court is going to ask whether the child still has significant time and contacts in the old state. The Court will likely call the Judge in the old state and ask if they want to “relinquish jurisdiction.” In other words, just because six months has passed doesn’t mean you automatically have jurisdiction in this state. It just means you MIGHT be able to file in Tennessee.
- If there is an emergency, and if the child is physically present in this state, you can file in the Juvenile Court of this state, alleging that if the child goes back to the parent in the old state, s/he will be in immediate danger of irreparable harm. Even then, the Court will likely touch base with the family law judge in the other state to ask if they want to relinquish jurisdiction or deal with the matter there.
Credibility is key. The point of the phone call is to ensure that there is no trick going on here, that no on is trying to kidnap the children, and no one is trying to avoid having to follow the rules the other judge handed down in the old state.
Especially your first time filing in Tennessee, you are going to need the additional preparation and credibility that a good family law attorney gives you. We have handled hundreds of these cases and will be happy to welcome you to Tennessee (and the Tennessee courts). Give us a call when you are ready to go.
When you’re ready to schedule a case assessment with Margaret Held or another Held Law Firm attorney, call 865-685-4780.