When divorced parents want to change residences or move with their children, it can be a huge source of conflict. If your ex-spouse is planning to move and take the children, you must act quickly if you want to protect your legal rights.

Moving Without a Parenting Plan

If your spouse is planning to move, your options will depend on whether or not there is an official parenting plan in place. If you and your former partner are still in the process of getting divorced, and no parenting plan is in place, then your ex is generally free to move wherever he or she wants.

However, this does not mean that your ex can move far away in order to prevent you from seeing your children or sharing custody. Doing so may constitute custodial interference, and could result in criminal charges. Any parent planning on moving with his or her children should always discuss the move first with a family law attorney, and with his or her former spouse.

Moving After a Parenting Plan

Once a parenting plan is in place, the parent with a majority of residential time must petition for relocation. Whether or not your spouse will be granted permission to relocate will depend on where that person is planning to move and why.

If your ex is moving to a new house within your children’s same school district, you do not have the right to object to the move. However, he or she must notify you that the move is taking place, and must notify you of his or her updated contact information.

If your ex is moving outside of the children’s school district, like to another city or state, then he or she must file a notice with the court and with you at least 60 days prior to the planned move. Once you receive this notice, you have thirty days to file an objection with the court. If you do not file an objection, your ex will be free to move.

If you do file an objection, the judge in the case will hold a hearing to decide if your children will be allowed to move. The judge will weigh factors like the impact of the move on the children, the children’s opinion about the move, the reason for the move, and whether relocation would harm the children. If the court agrees that the relocation is in the best interests of the children, the move will be allowed.

If the judge does not agree that the children should move, then they must stay in Washington. A parent who moves the child anyway is subject to several serious penalties, include criminal charges, jail time, and fines.

If your spouse is planning to move with your children, it is important to contact Pacific Northwest Family Law as soon as possible. Our attorneys can help you protect your rights, and will make sure that your ex follows state law. We can also help you create a new parenting plan that will fit your family’s changing needs.

If you have questions about your rights and obligations as a parent, contact Pacific Northwest Family Law today by calling 360-926-9112.