Moving Out-of-State and Custody

When getting divorced and negotiating custody, it’s impossible to foresee everything that the future will bring. You have to make custody arrangements based on your current situation and what’s best for your child. Months or years later, however, you or your ex-spouse may be considering moving out of state. This can have a significant impact on your custody arrangements and parenting plan and requires that you follow specific legal procedures in order to avoid problems. Whether you or your spouse is moving, a Seattle family law attorney can provide you with answers to your questions. 

Understand the Issue

When it comes to relocation, people often misunderstand what is at stake. The court cannot decide whether or not you or your ex-spouse can move. Instead, the court is deciding whether or not the moving parent can relocate your child out of state. In other words, relocation may require starting over with your custody and visitation arrangements. 

If you do not have a current custody agreement in place, then either parent is free to move and relocate the child. However, neither parent can prevent the other from seeing the child.  

Understand the Process

There is a legal process required by law for parents who wish to relocate their children. This process is briefly outlined as follows: 

  • The moving parent must provide written notice to the other parent at least 60 days in advance of the move. There is a specific form that must be used. Verbal notice is insufficient. 
  • The non-moving parent has the right to object to the relocation but must file their objection within 30 days of receiving the 60-day notice of relocation. 
  • If an objection to the relocation is filed, the court will schedule the matter for trial. 
  • While awaiting trial, the moving parent has the opportunity to file a Motion for Temporary Relocation. 

Failure to follow this process could be highly problematic. If you are the moving parent, you could lose your chance at relocating with your child. For the non-moving parent, failure to file an objection to the relocation could mean that you lose your rights. Whichever side you are on, the best thing to do is contact an experienced family law attorney. 

Understand the Presumption

Under Washington law, there is a presumption in favor of the parent with whom the child spends the majority of their time. This means that the court is inclined to rule in favor of this parent should they decide to relocate.  

However, the presumption is “rebuttable.” This means that the non-moving parent can prove why the relocation should not be allowed, despite the fact that the child spends the majority of their time with the moving parent. 

Navigating this presumption can be extremely difficult for both sides. A knowledgeable family law attorney can help. 

Facing a Possible Relocation? Contact a Family Lawyer Today

Whether you are considering a move or your co-parent is moving, your child’s custody arrangements are of vital importance. To discuss your rights and your options, contact our office to schedule a consultation by calling 206-784-3049 today.