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Custodial Parents: What You Need to Know Before Relocating

There are numerous reasons why a parent may decide they want to move. Perhaps they’ve received an offer for an exciting new job in a different state. Maybe they want to relocate closer to their aging parents. Or, perhaps a new setting and a fresh start is just what they need following a difficult divorce in order to achieve a healthy new beginning.

However, when you are the parent who has primary custody over your children following a divorce, a relocation any significant amount of distance away from the other parent is usually not a simple prospect.

In Washington State, relocation requirements are based around school districts. If you intend to move within the same school district in which you currently live, you do not have to receive permission. You must simply notify the other parent or any other third party which has visitation rights to your children of your new address, phone number, and any new school or daycare provider. This notification can be fulfilled however you choose, but it is wise to do it in writing so that you can prove you lawfully notified any parties which the law required you to notify.

Neither the noncustodial parent nor any other third parties who have legal visitation rights can object to a move within the same school district.

If you are considering moving anywhere outside of the school district in which you currently reside, and you intend to take your children with you, the process is much more complex, particularly if you are moving out of state.

Washington law requires that you provide official notice to the noncustodial parent and anyone else with court ordered visitation rights of your intent to move at least 60 days before the date you are planning to move.  If there is a parenting plan in place, you must also file a proposal for a revised parenting plan that conforms to the new circumstances that would be created by your move.

Opposing parties will have 30 days to file an objection to your intent to move. If no objection is filed, you will normally be able to proceed with your move. If a party with visitation rights does file an objection, your relocation may proceed to a hearing in which the opposing party must demonstrate that the benefits your move would have for your children are outweighed by the detriments.

As the primary custodial parent, you will be at an advantage in such a hearing because you are given a presumption of having the right to move away, and it is up to the opposing parties to provide reasonable cause to block the move. Nonetheless, relocation situations involving child custody are incredibly complex, and you should not attempt to pursue it without the guidance of the attorneys at the Law Office of Kenneth J. Levey.

If you are a custodial parent who is considering moving to a new school district, to a new city, or even to a new state or country, and you want to bring your children with you, please contact our offices today.

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