We live in a world where people’s careers often require them to move to find work or allow their career room to grow. We also live in a world where many families are dealing with parenting plans and raising children in two separate households. Relocation actions are what happens when these two realities intersect.
Upon receiving a notice of relocation, non-primary parents are often shocked, hurt, and confused. Below please find a few notes about the relocation process. This is by no means a substitution for legal advice or a complete summary of the laws and procedures regarding relocations in Washington.
In relocation cases, timing is very important. Most of the time, notice should be provided by the moving primary parent to the non-primary parent sixty days in advance of the proposed move. RCW 26.09.440(1)(b)(i). After receiving notice of intent to relocate, a person has only thirty days to file an objection with the court. RCW 26.09.500. The objection is made by filing a form with the court (this is not the only way to provide notice of your objection, but it is the most common and perhaps most clear objection). If you do not object within thirty days, the move will be permitted by the court.
If an objection is filed, and the court is asked to make a decision, the court does not decide whether the primary parent can move; instead, the court decides whether the parent may move the child.
If the non-primary parent chooses to object, the court will have to rule on the issue (unless the parties otherwise agree prior to a hearing). When deciding whether to permit the relocation, the court starts with the presumption that they will allow the move unless the noncustodial parent shows that the negative effect of the relocation outweighs the benefit to the children and the custodial parent of making the move. RCW 26.09.520. In making that determination the court considers several factors (see RCW 26.09.520 for a complete list). The factors require an in-depth factual analysis of the circumstances of the family. While the presumption favors the primary parent, proposed relocations of children are sometimes denied. Understanding your rights as both a primary and non-primary parent, and putting your best case forward can make the difference between seeing your child a few times a week and seeing them a few times a year.
If you are a primary parent hoping to relocate outside your child’s current school district boundaries, or a non-primary parent worried that your former spouse may try and move your child, and you think you might need the assistance of an attorney, please give us a call. We are ready to help you put your best case forward.
Please note, this is a limited summary of a relocation notice and objection. Every case is different, and as such, the advice provided by your family law attorney may be different.