Relocation following divorce is not uncommon. Tough economic times may force one to seek employment out of state or move houses due to skyrocketing housing prices. But a new job opportunity can quickly be turned upside down due to an existing parenting arrangement.
In Washington State, the court has jurisdiction when parents share custody of a child and one wants to relocate outside their school district. In this case, it is wise to consult with the Tri-Cities family law attorneys because of the precise rules and requirements in the Child Relocation Act (CRA).
It was only until recently that the CRA gave recourse for parents with joint custody if either of them wanted to relocate. The parent with joint custody must notify the other parent of their plan to move and inform anyone else with visitation rights, such as grandparents.
What Do Washington State Laws Say About Relocation with A Joint Custody?
Relocation laws in Washington State are complicated and are dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Several dynamics have to be considered before the request is determined. For this, you need an experienced family lawyer in Washington State who can evaluate your case and formulate a strategy that will help you prevail during the hearing.
Statutes that speak about the relocation of a parent who’s in a joint custody arrangement are found in RCW 26.09.405 to RCW 26.09.560. The new law now presumes that anyone with substantial residential time will be allowed to relocate provided they satisfy the statutory requirements. This means that a parent with substantially equal residential time (at least 45%) can move. But this isn’t always the case as sometimes even the parent with over 50% residential time is denied the request to relocate with the kids.
It’s important to note that the court won’t prevent a parent from relocating. What it does consider, though, is whether or not the parent will relocate with the kids. The court will consider your situation and that of your child before making any decisions.
What Should I Do If I’m Thinking of Relocating?
If you have an existing child custody arrangement, it’s good to consult with a Tri-Cities child custody attorney because there are requirements in the CRA which must be met.
If you have an existing order that gives someone else visitation rights or shared time with the child, you must give that person notice of your intention to relocate. But if there’s no court order in place, then this law doesn’t apply to you
When Can I Move After Giving Notice?
Often you’d have to wait until 60 days have elapsed after issuing the notice before moving to your new location. However, there are exceptions to this rule:
- You may still relocate with the child within the first 30 days without a court order if you can show that the other parent won’t object to this.
- You may also move if the other parent doesn’t object within 30 days
- If an objection is made to the notice, wait until the judge makes a final determination or seek temporary orders that allow you to move temporarily
What Happens If I Get an Objection to The Relocation?
Sometimes your former partner may feel the relocation may affect the child and choose to object. In this case, if they have valid reasons presented in court, you can decide to ask for a parenting plan modification.
Since a parenting plan modification in Washington State doesn’t come easily, you need a skilled child custody attorney in Tri-Cities to give adequate explanations.
What Will the Washington Court Consider to Decide My Relocation Notice?
The court will use several factors to weigh the benefits versus the detrimental effects of relocation. Some of them include:
- Existing agreements
- Whether the relocation with the child would be harmful than disrupting contact with the person objecting to the move
- The kind of relationship the child has with each parent and any other person in their lives
- The reasons for the relocation and any reasons for the objection
- The child’s age, development stage, needs
- Opportunities, quality of life and resources available to the child in the current place and proposed new location
- Any alternatives to relocation
- The financial impact of the relocation
best interests of the child
The court will look at all the above factors. Each factor will be weighed and decided whether it’s in favor of the mom, the dad, or it’s neutral. When determining the best interests of the child, the court will look at the motive of each parent, how the move might impact the life of the child positively, and the kind of impact the move will have on the non-custodial parent
Can I Move Within the Same Neighborhood as Long as The Child Doesn’t Change Schools?
A custodial parent still needs to alert the other parent if there are relocation plans regardless of the proximity of the move to the previous residence. If the move is in the same school district, a dispute may not arise but the other parent may still have a right to request a modification in the parenting plan.
If you want a parenting plan modification, make the request and also ask to take over primary custody. Your Washington relocation lawyers can help you determine the best strategy to implement and walk you through the process.
Knowledgeable and Sound Advice from Compassionate Family Lawyers
Opportunities spring up quickly. But before you commit to relocation, consider working with a knowledgeable family lawyer in Tri-Cities, Spokane, and Walla Walla. We have skilled child custody attorneys in Tri-Cities experienced in navigating Washington State courts to give you the best possible outcomes for you and your child.
Our job is to provide you with actionable advice to help you win a relocation case that also takes care of your child’s best interests. If you have an objection to a relocation request, get in touch with us too. Book your initial consultation with us today at no cost.