Parents living in Spokane often ask their family law attorneys whether they can move their children to another city or state. The answer will depend upon the unique circumstances of your situation. The most important rule to bear in mind is that you should never relocate the children without obtaining legal advice about the procedures you will need to follow.
Parents often have legitimate reasons to move. You might have an attractive job offer in another state, or your employer may want to transfer you to a different location. Some divorced parents enter into new relationships and want to follow their new partners. Some parents have legitimate concerns about the safety of their children and may want to protect them by moving them away from an abusive parent.
As reasonable as those motivations for moving may be, Washington family law always looks out for the best interests of the children. You might think it is in your child’s best interests to move with you to a different place, but the other parent may disagree. In that event, you face significant penalties if you relocate the children without obtaining the court’s permission or the other parent’s consent.
Why you need legal advice
You can move wherever you want. That does not necessarily mean you can move your children wherever you want.
If you remove a child from the United States for the purpose of obstructing another parent’s right to spend time with the child, you could be prosecuted for international parental kidnapping. Even if interfering with another parent’s custodial rights was not your intent, a federal prosecutor or court might not believe you.
Even moving your child to another state or to another city in Washington can cause problems if the move will affect the rights of the other parent. If your children are living with you pursuant to a court order (such as a parenting plan), you probably need to comply with Washington’s Relocation Act before you move the children.
The Relocation Act requires you to notify the other parent before you change the residence of your children. Since strict procedural requirements govern the content and delivery of the notice, you should get legal advice to make sure that notice is given as the law requires.
The other parent can object if the children will be moved outside of their current school district. Unless the parents can resolve that dispute through negotiation, the court will need to decide whether to approve or disallow the relocation. Representation by an attorney maximizes your opportunity to convince the court of your need to move the children.
What if the other parent wants to move your children?
If your children do not live with you and you receive notice that the other parent intends to relocate the children, you will lose your right to object to the move unless you make an appropriate and timely objection. A Spokane family law attorney can help you do that.
Your attorney can also help you negotiate with the other parent and, if necessary, can represent you in court. Whether the judge will ultimately allow or disallow the move depends on what the judge believes to be in the child’s best interests. Your opportunity to convince the judge that it is in your child’s best interests to maintain close contact with you will be greater if you are represented by a respected family law attorney.
The materials available on this website are for informational purposes only and are not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact an attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. This article does not create any attorney-client relationship.