After a divorce has been finalized, and a child custody arrangement has been determined, a parent may get a job elsewhere or simply want a change of scenery. If the parent with most of the residential or custodial time with the child wants to move, he or she may need to give notice to the other parent. Often, a parent with visitation opposes the relocation with the assistance of a family law attorney. The law provides a mechanism by which a parent (or another party with standing, such as a grandparent with visitation) who opposes the relocation may object. In some cases, a parenting plan was put in place during the divorce that sets forth certain requirements related to notice to the other parent. Relocation may require the modification of a parenting plan. Seattle child custody lawyer Sara Kim can assist a parent who is seeking to relocate with a child or someone who is resisting the proposed relocation.Proposing and Objecting to Relocation
When there is no existing court order for custody and visitation, a custodial parent is free to move without adhering to the relocation law. However, the custodial parent must be on guard against violating the state's laws against custodial interference, as well as the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act, which every state uses to determine which courts have jurisdiction when child custody is disputed in more than one location. Even if there is no court order in place, it is a wise idea to consult a lawyer and provide notice to the non-custodial parent to avoid running afoul of kidnapping laws.
When a court order divides child custody and visitation between two or more parties, notice of relocation will be required. Although notice is required, as long as a custodial parent only wants to move to a new home that stays inside the children's school district, the non-custodial parent cannot object to the move. Notice in that case is supposed to include the new address, the new phone number, and contact information for a new daycare, preschool, or school.
However, when a custodial parent wants to move outside the current school district, and the state's relocation law is controlling, written notice must be provided to the other parent or anyone with residential time or visitation at least 60 days before the move under RCW 26.09.430. There are some exceptions, such as for domestic violence. When proper notice is not provided but was required, sanctions can be imposed.
The other parent has 30 days from receiving notice to file an objection to the move. The objection will need to explain why the move is not in the child's best interests. If no objection is filed within the 30-day timeframe, the judge may enter an order that permits the custodial parent to relocate with the child.
However, if the objection is timely filed, the judge will hold a hearing on the child's best interests. The non-custodial parent may, in connection with the hearing, ask the court to modify the existing parenting plan and order through a formal motion. Courts will consider how involved the child is with parents, siblings, and other important people in the child's life, prior parental agreements, how detrimental the disruption would be to the child's relationship with each parent, any limitations on visitation related to abuse or domestic violence, the reason for the relocation, the child's developmental needs and the effect of relocation on the child's development, the quality of life in the existing and proposed locations, the availability of alternative arrangements, alternatives to relocation, and the financial impact of the relocation. Courts are required to allow a relocation unless the parent who objects can prove that the negative effects outweigh the benefits of relocating the child and the custodial parent.Explore Your Options with a Child Custody Lawyer in the Seattle Area
Often, a parenting plan put in place at the time of a divorce is not adequate to address certain changes in parents' lives years later. Relocation can be a fraught decision, as can a decision to object to the other parent's relocation request. A skillful Seattle child custody attorney can affect the outcome of a hearing in front of the court and give you accurate advice about notice. Sara Kim can provide you with knowledgeable legal representation. She represents people throughout King County, including in Redmond, Kirkland, and Bellevue. Call us at (206) 622-6562 or use our online form to set up a consultation.