It’s understandable if a spouse wants to move after a divorce, but it can be complicated if a child is involved. When you are the custodial parent, meaning you have full or a majority of physical custody, you need an agreement with the other parent or a court order approving the relocation.
Parental Relocation Laws in Washington State
The custodial parent has the right to move residence but is required to notify the other parent. However, the procedural rules differ based on if you are planning to move and keep your child within the same school district or moving somewhere that would change your child’s school district.
Moving Outside of the Child’s School District
In general, you must give the other parent at least 60 days notice before the date you intend to move by either:
Personal service by a third party who signs a statement that notice was given to the other parent
Any form of mail requiring a return receipt
If there is an emergency and it is impossible to give at least 60 days’ notice, you must notify the other parent within five days after you know you are moving. You must be able to demonstrate that you did not know and could not reasonably have known about the move, and you cannot delay it.
It is best to file your notice in the same court that entered your divorce or parenting plan.
Moving Within the Same School District
Notice must be given to every person entitled to visitation or who has equal time with the child. Your new address, phone number, and any change in daycare provider or school must be included. Notification can be given in person, by phone, email, or in a note. However, it is best to have proof of the notification by sending a certified letter or by any form of mail that gives evidence of delivery.
If you do not have an existing order regarding residential time or visitation with the other parent, you can move without notification but keep custodial interference laws in mind. Even without a parenting plan, you cannot take or hide a child from the other parent.
Protecting the Child’s Best Interests
Before a relocation is allowed, the court will consider the child’s best interests. Some of these factors include:
The child’s preference
The distance of the move
The child’s living arrangements
The parents’ willingness to co-parent and communicate with one another
The impact the move will have on the child’s education and relationships with family and friends
Ultimately it will come down to whether the move is believed to be in the child’s best interests or detrimental to their wellbeing.
Court Process for Deciding Whether a Child Can Be Relocated
Before moving, wait at least 60 days after giving notice. The reason being that the other parent has the right to object to the move, so you may not be legally allowed to without a court order. If an objection is not filed within 30 days, you can move. Parents cannot object to relocations within the same school district.
When a parent does file an objection to a relocation outside the current school district, you must wait until the judge has made a final decision or a court order allows you to move temporarily. When the court is deciding whether a child can be relocated, they will consider any evidence of potentially harmful effects on the child and if they outweigh the benefits.
The judge cannot consider whether the custodial parent will have to stay if it is denied or if the non-custodial parent will have to relocate if it is allowed. If the relocation request is granted, the judge will alter the parenting plan accordingly and can take those factors into account. If the request is denied, the custodial parent may still move but cannot take the children.
Get Help From a Spokane Relocation Attorney
If you are thinking about relocating and need the assistance of an experienced Spokane relocation attorney, contact Twyford Law Office. Call (509) 327-0777 today to schedule your initial consultation.