Washington Parents: What You Need to Know About Relocation Under Your Current Parenting Plan Agreement

Are you thinking about relocating and wondering if you can relocate with your child? If you currently have a court order outlining custody and visitation rights between yourself and the other parent, then you are under certain obligations as the custodial parent to ensure proper timely notice is provided to the non-custodial parent. Child relocation law in Washington State requires you to make some considerations before initiating your move.

Custodial Parents: Short-Distance Moves

If you’re the custodial parent and you’re moving to a new home within the child’s existing school district, you can usually relocate without any problems. While the non-custodial parent may not have the legal right to technically stop you, you are required per the statute to notify the other parent and provide them with the appropriate contact information.

Custodial Parents: Before You Move

In most cases, you need to notify the non-custodial parent in writing at least 60 days before you intend to move. You should include your new contact information, address (unless you were previously allowed to keep your address confidential) and the child’s school information. If you don’t notify the other parent properly, you risk court sanctions that could interfere with your plans to move. For example, you could be held in contempt, be forced to pay the non-custodial parent’s attorney fees, or simply be ordered to move back to your original location.

Non-Custodial Parents: Contesting a Move

As the non-custodial parent, you have 30 days to file a formal objection with the court once you have received written notice. Your objection will include a statement explaining why the move is not in the child’s best interests, and in fact, is more detrimental then denying the move all together. If you don’t file your objection within that time frame, you will miss your chance to prevent the move, as a judge can then permit the other parent to relocate with your child per the Notice of Intended Relocation.

Non-Custodial Parents: Additional Action

You need to also file a Motion for a Temporary Order, to prevent the move which must be held within 15 days of filing a timely objection.  An expedited trial date will also be given for an ultimate resolution on the matter.  

Attending the Court Hearing

When a non-custodial parent files a timely objection, there will be a hearing in court. After everyone has had a chance to present their side of the case, the judge will issue a written order. Under Washington law, the presumption is that the custodial parent can move unless the objecting parent can prove that the negative effects of relocation would outweigh the benefits. In Washington, the decision will revolve around these relevant questions:

  1. What kind of relationship does the child have with each parent, sibling, and other important figures?
  2. Do the parents have a prior agreement?
  3. Would it be worse to disrupt the child’s contact with the custodial parent or the non-custodial parent?
  4. Does either parent have limited visitation because of prior violence, abandonment, or abuse?
  5. Why are the parents requesting or opposing relocation, and are these requests being made in good faith?
  6. What are the child’s developmental needs, and how will relocation affect their physical, educational, or emotional development?
  7. Will the move allow for a better quality of life, resources, and opportunities for the child and the relocating parent?
  8. Can you make arrangements to continue the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent?
  9. Are there alternatives to moving away, or should the non-custodial parent relocate as well?
  10. What are the financial and logistical implications involved in the plan to relocate?

Making Adjustments

If the judge allows the relocation, both parents will receive the opportunity to propose a revised parenting plan taking into account the relocation and the new distance between the respective homes. Whether you are initiating or opposing a plan to relocate, it’s essential that you do all of the paperwork properly and that you strictly follow the timelines provided in the statute. If you don’t, you may have to make concessions that won’t benefit you or your child or you may have little say in the final outcome. Take the time to consult with an attorney before you take any legal action.

Bliss Law Group can provide you with the focused legal counsel you need to have the court decide in your favor, as well as the compassionate guidance your family deserves. Call us today to make use of our in-depth knowledge about child custody relocation law, we can be reached at 253-844-4412.

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Written by Bliss Law Group