In the state of Washington, just like in many other states, there are laws in place to prevent one parent from taking his or her child and simply moving out of state or far away from the other parent. After all, it would be unfair to the noncustodial parent to allow the custodial parent to move away with the child without any notice, changes to the current parenting plan, or discussion about whether the move is in the best interest of the child.

Washington law requires that a parent who wishes to relocate with a child go through certain procedural steps before actually relocating. At least 60 days prior to the move, the custodial parent must give notice to anyone, including the noncustodial parent, who is entitled to visitation or residential time with the child. This notice must contain several pieces of important information, including the proposed new address and the reasons for the proposed relocation.

After receiving the notice of proposed relocation, the noncustodial parent has 30 days in which to file an objection to the proposed relocation with the court. The only exception is that the noncustodial parent does not have the right to object to the proposed move if it would allow the child to remain in the same school district. During this 30-day period, the custodial parent typically cannot relocate, unless a court order allows him or her to do so, or some other special circumstances exist. If the noncustodial parent makes no objection to the proposed relocation in the 30-day objection period, then the court typically will allow the custodial parent and child to move as planned.

If a noncustodial parent does object to the proposed relocation during the proper period of time, the court will set the matter for a hearing. However, the objecting parent still may have a difficult time preventing the proposed location. Under Washington law, there is a presumption that any proposed relocation with the child is permissible. In order to overcome that presumption, the noncustodial parent must prove that the detrimental effects of the move on the child outweigh the potential benefits to the child. In making this determination, a court will consider various factors that relate to the child’s best interest in terms of the proposed relocation, such as the relationship between the child and each parent, each parent’s reasons for opposing the relocation, the possible negative effects of a move on the child’s physical and emotional development, and any alternatives to relocation.

Relocation cases can be very complex, so you will need to consult a Washington child custody attorney about your rights and obligations under Washington law. With our legal knowledge of Washington family law, we can help you make the decisions in your case that will best benefit you and your family in your relocation case or in any other family law matter. We are here to answer your questions, ease your mind, and help guide you through what is likely to be a difficult proceeding. At Pacific Northwest Family Law, we handle family law cases that involve all types of issues, including relocation, child custody, divorce, paternity, child support, property division, and spousal support. Contact our office today and see how we can assist you with your Washington family law case.