Parental relocation, also known as a move away case, is one of the most complex issues impacting child custody in Washington. Once a custody order is entered by the family court, neither parent is allowed to move away with their child without formal permission from either the other parent or the court. If you need help arguing your case for relocating with your child or preventing your child from moving, contact Cohen Family Law, LLC. Our relocation lawyers can discuss your legal rights and options in a free consultation; send us an email or call (360) 953-5000 today.
If parents cannot agree on modifying child custody to allow child relocation, then the parent seeking to move must file a petition to seek the court’s permission. The court will always look at the best interests of the child. Whether you are a parent wishing to relocate, or a parent seeking to prevent move-away orders, it is critical to hire a trusted and skilled relocation lawyer. They will be able to explain your legal options and protect your parental rights. The legal process of resolving parental relocation cases can be challenging and complex, which can leave you feeling frustrated, frightened, and overwhelmed. Having a relocation attorney on your side will not only help ease the stress of court proceedings, but it can make a significant difference in obtaining a desirable outcome of the case.
Washington State’s relocation law only applies when there is an existing custody order, but it is still wise for any parent to give the other notice of a move. It is against custodial interference laws to take or hide a child from a parent. What the state’s relocation law requires will depend on where you are planning to relocate.
If a custodial parent is planning to move somewhere that is still within the child’s same school district, the other parent cannot object to it. The custodial parent must only give actual notice to any person with visitation rights or residential time with the child. Notification can be provided by any reasonable means, such as in-person or on the phone, but the best option is to send a certified letter to prove the task’s completion.
A custodial parent must give formal notice to the non-custodial parent at least 60 days in advance of a move outside the child’s school district. The formal notice can be completed by a third party who signs a statement that the other parent was notified or through any mail that requires a return receipt. If an emergency arises and the custodial parent cannot give at least 60 days’ notice, they must notify the other parent within five days after becoming aware of the move. However, the custodial parent will have to demonstrate that they could not have reasonably expected to move in time to give 60 days’ notice, as well as that it cannot be delayed.
If the non-custodial parent objects to the relocation, they have 30 days from when they were notified to file an objection with the court. Copies of the objection must be served to the moving parent and anyone else who has visitation rights to the child. A hearing will then be scheduled for a judge to decide if relocating is in the child’s best interests.
Before the hearing on relocation occurs, the non-custodial parent can ask for temporary orders to prevent a child from moving or order a child’s return if they have moved already. Similarly, a custodial parent can ask for temporary permission to move, but it is a risk. The court can ultimately deny their request to relocate and order the child’s return.
Both parents will be able to present their arguments and evidence regarding the relocation at a hearing in front of a judge. The court will allow the relocation if both parents are in agreement, but if one has objected, the following factors will be taken into consideration:
The judge is only allowed to consider the child’s best interests. They cannot take into account whether the custodial parent will have to give up moving or whether a non-custodial parent will have to move.
Family law matters related to parental relocation or move away orders are extremely time-sensitive, making it critical to enlist the help of an experienced relocation attorney as soon as possible. To schedule a free consultation, call (360) 953-5000 or send us a message today.