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Child Relocation in Washington State

How much notice of relocation with children do you need to give in Washington State?

In Child Relocation of Washington State, any parent with primary or joint custody of a child must alert the other parent if they plan to move. If anyone else has visitation rights, such as the child’s grandparents, they must inform them as well.

According to RCW 26.09.440, you must send a notice of relocation to all parties at least 60 days ahead of the expected move. This is a formality to ensure you do not invade the other parties’ rights to see the child. Yet, it is also a courtesy so that the other parties know where the child will live. The notice will give them an opportunity to object if they feel that the move is not best for the child for any reason.  

The notice should contain the new address (if available) and a short explanation of why you and the child plan to move. The court recognizes that you might not know the new address right away, as you may be relocating for work and need time to iron out the details. That is okay. It is important to provide as much information as possible about where you are heading, including the city/state. 

You will need to supply the updated mailing address so that the non-custodial parties know how to contact you. The notice should also contain contact information for your little one’s childcare and school. That way, if they need to reach the child for any reason, they know who to call.

It is your responsibility to keep the other parties in the loop as you learn more about the move, including your exact address. When submitting the notice of relocation with children, you will need to include a “proposed parenting plan” that outlines any new potential custody or visitation arrangement. 

If you plan to move to a different state, things can get tricky. It is helpful to communicate with a child custody attorney so that you can best understand your rights. Some moves may be out of your control (such as for work), and in that case, the parent with primary custody might need to shift. 

Can you move within the same neighborhood as long as your child does not change schools? 

The custodial parent who plans to relocate will still need to alert the other parties about the move regardless of how close it is to the former/existing residence. If a custodial parent is relocating with a child in “the same school district,” the other parties who have visitation usually cannot dispute the move since the child will not need to change schools. (RCW 26.09.450

The other parent reserves the right to ask the court to modify the parenting plan, however. (RCW 26.09.260) This process is often shorter than a standard parenting plan modification request since the notice of relocation shows “cause.” An adequate cause hearing may be unnecessary since a reason for the modification has already been established. 

In the modification request, you can ask to take over primary custody if you do not have it currently. Remember that you will need to show you have the means to provide for the child while in your custody.

Washington State law does not favor one parent over another. The court’s sole objective is to place children in the best, safest environment. Talk to an attorney if you would like to know your odds of winning a parenting plan modification.

Is non-custodial parent relocation in Washington State possible?

The non-custodial party does not have to provide notice of a move. However, you may need to modify the parenting plan if your relocation impacts the visitation schedule. 

For instance, if you are relocating due to work and cannot see your child on the days designated in the parenting plan, you will need to amend it. This is easy to do if you work with a family lawyer. 

At the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer, we have a plethora of attorneys to choose from who are up to date with the Washington State child custody laws. Relocations with children are not always easy if family members do not communicate. Our legal team will talk for you by making sure all notices and objections are filed in time with the right court. 

What do you do if you have an objection to the relocation?

The non-custodial party (who is entitled to visitation) needs to file any objection and provide a response to the petitioner no greater than 30 days before the anticipated move date included in the notice of relocation. Otherwise, the court may approve the move and adjust the custody plan accordingly. (RCW 26.09.500)

If your former partner wishes to relocate with your shared child, and you feel the move may have adverse effects on your little one, you can ask the court to modify the parenting plan. Be sure to include all reasons why you think the move is not in your child’s “best interest,” as parenting plan modifications do not come easily. The judge will need a good explanation on why this move is not best for the child and why changing the person who has primary custody is the right move. 

Consult an experienced family law attorney today.

The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer has worked with various child relocation cases in Washington State. We can provide actionable advice on how to increase your chances of winning a relocation case, as well as educate you on your custody rights. If you have an objection to a relocation, and you seek a lawyer who can help you make your case, we are the place to call. Connect with our team today to book your first consultation at no cost.