How to Relocate with Children after a Divorce

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How to Relocate with Children after a Divorce
Written By: Josh Lowell ~ 5/9/2022


The divorce process is undoubtedly stressful. Moving homes is exceptionally demanding. Combining the two can be a recipe for disaster. Knowing the law and working with an attorney are the two simplest ways to ensure a smooth transition. What does the Court look for in a Washington relocation case? Read below to better understand the process and the factors at issue in your case.

The Process:

If you have a Parenting Plan, this is the point you take it out and (for most newer plans) look to Section 13. There is an entire section devoted to Relocation, and you should read it twice over. This entire section is based on RCW 26.09.405 through 26.09.916. Following the requirements of this statute is imperative.

If you are moving outside the current school district you must provide the form Notice of Intent to Relocate with the Children at least 60-days in advance of your move. This must be personally served or mailed with return receipt requested on the other party. There are exceptions to the 60-day notice requirement, but you must strictly apply those exceptions for them to apply.

Once serve, the opposing party has 30-days to object. If they fail to object, you are free to move. If they object, then your case is likely headed to Court. At the hearing, the Court will examine the factors for determination of relocation (described below) to determine what is in the best interests of the children. If you win, they will may grant an updated parenting plan reflecting the new realities of the living situation.

The Factors:

Next to the Notice requirement, the next important piece is proving the relocation is in the children’s best interest. This is memorialized in RCW 26.09.520. There are ten factors the Court will review. Notably, if you have primary custody of the children, then the Court will presume that moving is in the best interests of the children. In short, the factors are as follows:

  1. The relative strength, nature, quality, involvement, and stability of the relationship between the kids and each parent.
  2. Prior agreements of the parties.
  3. Whether disruption of the child’s life with one parent causes greater detriment to the child than disruption of life with the other parent.
  4. Whether either parent is limited under RCW 26.09.191.
  5. The reasons for relocating and objecting.
  6. The age, needs, and impact of relocation or prevention of relocation on the kids and how it will affect their development.
  7. The quality of life, resources, and opportunities in both locations.
  8. The availability of alternative arrangements to foster relationships with the non-moving parent.
  9. The alternatives to relocation and feasibility of the other parent to move also.
  10. The financial impact and logistics of relocation or prevention.

In sum, the Court will try and look at all angles for determining a relocation. Due to the rebuttable presumption, the Court errs on the side of granting relocation. However, if you have no good reason to move or the other parent has good reasons to prevent a move, relocation is solely within the Court’s discretion. Working with an experienced family law attorney will help solidify your factors and ensure you properly follow the relocation statute. The attorneys at the law offices of Magnuson Lowell PS are ready and available to help you win your relocation. Call today for a free case evaluation.

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