Lynnwood
Kent
Marysville
(425) 771-3600
(253) 859-2488
(425) 771-3600

In most divorced families, parents have the freedom to relocate to another city or state, even if it affects the time a child spends with either parent. However, in order for a move to occur, a Washington State judge must approve the request to relocate.

In families where there is no existing court order for custody or visitation, Washington’s relocation law does not apply and the custodial parent is free to move as he or she chooses, as long as moving does not violate laws against custodial interference or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. If these laws are violated the custodial parent could face jail time. Ideally, the custodial parent will provide written notice of the relocation to the non-custodial parent prior to the move.

If there is a court order pertaining to custody or visitation in place, relocation is a bit more complicated. Orders created on or after June 2000 fall under the Washington relocation law. The law only applies in part to orders created prior to that date. Ideally, anyone considering relocation, or who knows their child’s other parent is considering relocation far enough to affect the time available to spend with his or her child, should consult a Washington State attorney familiar with the law.

What Can Be Done If I Don’t Want My Child to Move?

A custodial parent must provide written notice for a proposed move at least 60 days in advance, except in rare emergency circumstances. Certain penalties apply if written notice is not provided, so if you have concerns about this requirement, make sure you consult an attorney.

Non-custodial parents have 30 days to object to the move with a formal statement outlining why they do not believe the move is in the child’s best interest. In addition to the objection, non-custodial parents should also file a petition or motion regarding a modification to the parenting plan to get the matter on the court’s calendar as soon as possible.

A hearing is then scheduled so a judge can determine if the move is in the child’s best interest. At the hearing, the judge considers:

  • Child’s relationship with each parent and any other family members or significant third parties
  • Reason for relocation or opposition to relocation
  • Previous agreements between the child’s parents
  • Whether a disruption in contact with the custodial parent would be more disruptive than a disruption in contact with the non-custodial parent
  • Whether visitation is limited due to previous negative acts
  • Age and needs of the child and the impact relocation would have on development
  • Quality of life, resources, and opportunities available in the current and proposed locations
  • Ability to continue relationship with non-custodial parent should the relocation be approved
  • Alternatives to relocation
  • Financial impact of relocation

The judge cannot consider:

  • Whether the custodial parent will be forced to forego the move if the relocation is denied
  • Whether the non-custodial parent will be forced to relocate if the relocation is approved

These considerations are not a factor until the relocation is approved and as a result the parenting plan is changed.

Professional Help for Relocation

Are you a custodial parent with a need to move? Are you a non-custodial parent and your child’s other parent plans to relocate and alter the access you have to your child? In either case you need the assistance of an experienced Washington State attorney. Feldman and Lee, P.S. can help you protect your rights and the well-being of your child. For more information, contact any of our Seattle area offices.

Contact / Office Location

Lynnwood Office
19303 44th Avenue West
Lynnwood, WA 98036
Phone: (425) 771-3600
Fax: (425) 775-8016

Kent Office
604 West Meeker Street
Suite 206
Kent, WA 98032
Phone: (253) 859-2488
Fax: (253) 859-2295

Marysville Office
519 Beach Avenue
Marysville, WA 98270
Phone: (425) 771-3600
Fax: (425) 368-3610