Relocating with the children, part 1

© Bruce Clement

Summary:

This article summarizes Washington State's Relocation Statute (RCW 26.09.430 through 26.09.480). If the custodial parent plans to move, that person has to give prior notice of the move to the noncustodial parent (or anyone else with custodial or visitation rights).

Notice of a move outside school district:

If the move is outside the child's school district, the custodial parent must give notice to the noncustodial parent by personal service or by mail requiring a return receipt. This notice must be at least 60 days before the intended move. If the custodial parent could not have known about the move in time to give 60 days' notice, that person must give notice within 5 days after learning of the move. The notice must contain the information required in RCW 26.09.440 [use the blank form DRPSCU 07.0500, Notice of Intended Relocation of a Child].

Notice of a move within school district:

If the move is within the same school district, the custodial parent must provide actual notice by any reasonable means. The noncustodial parent in that event may not object to the move, but may ask for modification under RCW 26.09.260.

Delay of notice to avoid harm:

Notice may be delayed for 21 days if the custodial parent is entering a domestic violence shelter, or is moving to avoid a clear, immediate and unreasonable risk to health and safety. If information is protected under a court order, or the address confidentiality program, it may be withheld from the notice. In addition, the custodial parent may ask the court to waive any notice requirements that may endanger the health and safety of a person or a child.

Punishment for failure to give notice:

Failure of the custodial parent to give the required notice may be grounds for the court to impose a fine or other sanctions, including contempt.

Relocation allowed if no objection:

If the noncustodial parent does not file an objection within 30 days after service of the notice, the relocation will be permitted, and the custodial parent's proposal for a revised parenting plan will be adopted.

How to object to relocation:

A person entitled to court ordered visitation can file an objection to the child's relocation whether or not he or she received proper notice. This objection may be filed by using the mandatory form WPF DRPSCU 07.0700, (Objection to Relocation/Petition for Modification of Parenting Plan/Residential Schedule). The objection must be served on all persons entitled to time with the child.

When relocation is prohibited:

Relocation can be prohibited by court order. In addition, the custodial parent cannot move the child during the time for objection unless: (a) the delayed notice provisions apply; or (b) a court order allows the move. If the objecting person schedules a hearing for a date within 15 days of timely service of the objection, the custodial parent cannot move the child before the hearing unless there is a clear, immediate and unreasonable risk to the health or safety of a person or child.

Additional Resources:

See RCW 26.09.405 through 26.09.519.