Can Parents Agree to Never Move Away?

In a recent case, the Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled that agreements contained in a parenting plan would not supersede the Parental Rights Relocation Act. In the case of In Re Blake, the parents agreed in a parenting plan that neither of the parties would move out of Montgomery County with the minor children without the permission of the other parent.

Subsequently, the Mother decided to move away of the children and followed the proper relocation procedure outlined in the Tennessee Parental Relocation Statute. The Father filed a Petition with the Court to stop the Mother’s move. The trial court ruled that the “more specific language of the parties, adopted as set forth [in the Parenting Plan], supersedes the language of the Tennessee Parental Rights Relocation act, with makes the findings under the Tennessee Parental Relocation Act unnecessary in this case.”

Based on the trial court’s ruling, the Mother filed an application for an extraordinary appeal to the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals ruled that parents “cannot bargain away the continuing jurisdiction of the care and custody of the children” held by the Court. Thus, the parenting plan, and any agreements of the parties contained therein, cannot prevent the court from following the procedures set forth in the statute as it considers the potential change in circumstances caused by the relocation of one of the parents.

Therefore, it appears that parents cannot bargain away the authority of the Court in a parenting plan. If two parents agree to never move from the county they live in at the time of divorce, chances are such agreements are not worth the paper on which they are written.