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Is It Possible to Relocate With Children After the Divorce?

Curiale Hostnik PLLC  March 22, 2023

Moving from one city or state to another is never easy and requires a lot of planning and hard work. However, moving with children can be even more difficult, and when you share custody of your kids with a co-parent, there are legal considerations to take into account as well. Many parents want to know more about relocation after a divorce and specifically, whether moving will jeopardize their parenting rights or put them in violation of a court order. These are very important topics to understand and should only be addressed with the help of an experienced family law attorney.  

At Curiale Hostnik PLLC, we specialize in divorce, child custody, and child support and can help you with any issue you’re facing. If you’re in the Tacoma, Washington, area or anywhere throughout Pierce County, including Puyallup, Gig Harbor, University Place, or Lakewood, give us a call today to get started. 

Relocating With Your Child in Washington 

If you’re the custodial parent of your child and there is no court order in place for visitation from the other parent, then you are legally allowed to move without violating Washington’s relocation law. However, just because you are allowed to do this, doesn’t mean that this will always be in the child’s best interests, especially if you’re moving out of state with the child. You may also be inadvertently violating federal laws that protect the rights of non-custodial parents. If there is a court order in place, then the custodial parent must follow all regulations for notification and (in some cases) obtaining consent from the other parent. 

Notification Requirements  

If there is a court order in place and you want to move with your child outside of their current school district, you must formally notify the other parent of your intentions. This notification of intent to relocate must be completed in writing and must be submitted at least 60 days before the move.  

After the notice is received, the non-custodial parent has 30 days to file an objection if they wish. This objection must be filed with the court and must include the reason for the objection and why it’s not in the best interests of the child. Once this has been received, a hearing will be scheduled where a judge will hear testimony from both parents and determine whether to allow the move. 

Factors the Court Will Consider  

The overarching consideration for all issues concerning families is the best interests of the child. However, a judge will also look at the strength and quality of the relationships between both parents and the child, what kind of disruption the move would have on the non-custodial parent and their ability to have regular contact with their child, the reasons each parent has for and against the move, the emotional and physical needs of the child, whether there are any reasonable alternatives to moving, and the financial concerns of each parent. At your hearing, it’s highly recommended that you work with a child custody lawyer to ensure the best interests of you and your child are being represented. 

Visitation for the Noncustodial Parent  

In almost all cases, a judge will seek to maintain regular visitation rights for the non-custodial parent as it’s been shown that children do best when they have regular interaction with both parents after a divorce. However, if the custodial parent wishes to move far enough away that it wouldn’t be feasible to maintain the current visitation schedule, a request for a modification to the order would be needed.   

Understand Your Rights After Divorce  

If you currently share custody or parenting time with a co-parent and are concerned about a possible relocation, reach out to us at Curiale Hostnik PLLC in Tacoma, Washington, for help.