When parents separate, there often comes a time when one of them wants to move. Relocation can cause issues with co-parenting. Under Washington family law, when a custodial parent wants to move with the child, there is a rebuttable presumption the move will be allowed. The other parent may rebut the presumption by showing the benefit of the move is outweighed by its detrimental effect, based on several factors. Those factors include: the child’s relationship with each parent and other significant people in their life; any agreement between the parties; which relationship it would be more detrimental to disrupt; whether there are restrictions under RCW 26.09.191; the reasons for each parent’s position and whether they are requesting or opposing the relocation in good faith; how the relocation would affect the child’s development; the resources and opportunities available in the current and proposed locations; ways to continue the child’s relationship and access to the other parent; alternatives to relocation; and the financial impact and logistics of relocating or not relocating.
In a recent case, a mother challenged the parenting plan entered by the court. The couple had lived together with the father’s mother and the mother and child continued to live there after they separated. The mother subsequently petitioned for a parenting plan and asked to move from Spokane to Medical Lake, where her boyfriend lived.
The trial court considered the factors in RCW 26.09.187. Under Washington family law, a court must consider certain factors when determining the parenting plan. These factors include the child’s relationship with each parent, past and potential future parenting performance, the child’s needs and emotional development, the child’s relationship with others, his environment, and his activities, the wishes of the parents and of the child if he is mature enough to express a reason and an independent preference, and the parents’ employment schedules. RCW 26.09.187.