Articles Tagged with relocation

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.

Unmarried parents are often confused about their rights and responsibilities when they want to move their children, or if they want to stop the children’s other parent from moving the kids. For most families living under a court-ordered Washington parenting plan, there is a relocation statute that requires notice be given (except in limited circumstances) prior to moving the children. The type of notification (formal vs. informal) and other requirements (timing of notice, allowing time for objection of other parent) of notification vary based on whether the move is (1) out of the school district, or (2) within the school district. A lot of attention is paid to the notice required for a move outside the school district. There is a law requiring (in most cases) a formal notice of intended relocation. There is also a process that allows the other party to object to the proposed relocation. However, there are frequent instances where a residential parent merely wants to move across town to a new home or apartment. These types of moves often keep the children in the same school district (or even the same school). In these instances, residential parents often wonder what the law requires of them, and non-residential parents wonder whether they have any say in the decision.

RCW 26.09.450 requires that when the residential parent intends to move the kids within the same school district, the residential parent must provide actual notice to all people entitled to residential time with the child. According to that statue, the notice may be by any reasonable means. While “reasonable means” is a vague term (that can include verbal notice), it is usually advisable that a residential parent provide written notice. This reduces the chance that the non-residential parent will deny receiving notice. A copy of the notice you provide should be kept for your records. Many attorneys advise that this notice be sent by certified mail with a return receipt requested. The notice should likely include your new home address, phone number, and (if applicable) new school or daycare information. (Notice requirements are often different in cases involving domestic violence or other safety concerns.)

If you are the recipient of notice that your child’s residential parent is relocating within the school district, you are not allowed to formally object to the relocation. That said, in some cases an in-district move may be grounds for a modification of the parenting plan.

As if packing your entire home into cardboard boxes, finding a new place to live and work, and saying goodbye to local friends and family aren’t enough, we have one more thing you may need to consider before moving. If you have children that you intend to also relocate, with someone whom you are not moving with, you may need to provide your kids’ other parent (and/or anyone else with legal rights to residential time with your children) with notice of your intent to relocate. (This may not be true if there is no court order providing the other person(s) with legal rights to time with the children, but there are other laws that may still affect your ability to move with your kids.)

The content and type of notice required varies based on where you intend to relocate to and whether there is a court order requiring notice.

If, based on your circumstances, notice is required pursuant to RCW 26.09.430, it should be provided no less than sixty days prior to your move. (As with most rules, there are exceptions to this rule.) If the general rule applies and sixty days’ notice is to be provided, the opposing party must file their objection within thirty days of receiving notice of your intent to relocate. If they do object, the court (unless you can settle the issue before hand) will decide whether or not you may move with your children.