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The Tennessee Supreme Court Interprets "Reasonable Purpose" Under The Parental Relocation Statute

On March 16, 2017, the Tennessee Supreme Court held in Cassidy Lynne Aragon v. Reynaldo Manuel Aragon that a father who spent more time than his former spouse with their child could relocate to a new state with the child because of employment considerations and proximity to extended family.

The case centered on the interpretation of Tennessee's Parental Relocation Statute, which states that a parent in a split custody situation who spends more time than the other parent with their child "shall be permitted to relocate with the child" unless the court finds the relocation had no reasonable purpose, posed a specific and serious threat of harm to the child that outweighs the harm of changing child custody, or the change is vindictive towards the other parent's visitation time. Tenn. Code Ann. § 36-6-108(d)(1). Aragon focused on whether the father had a "reasonable purpose" for the relocation. The father stated that he sought to relocate from Tennessee to Arizona with his daughter because he thought that the latter state had better work opportunities and the daughter would be closer to extended family. The mother argued that the father had no "reasonable purpose" for the proposed relocation.

shall be permitted to relocate . . . unless" the Court finds a reason for denial. Once the father provided a reasonable purpose-which here was economic and familial considerations-the opposing spouse then had the burden of showing a ground for denial. The Court concluded that the mother had virtually no evidence disproving the father's stated purpose and thus failed to provide a ground for denial. While Aragon did not explicitly determine whether merely economic considerations, such as seeking new employment, alone constitute a "reasonable purpose" for relocation (the father in Aragon had both employment and familial considerations), the Court's reasoning suggests that employment alone may indeed constitute a reasonable purpose for relocation.

The information contained in this blog is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. No recipients of content from this blog should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice from an attorney licensed in the recipient's state. 

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