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How Do Washington Courts Determine Custody Relocation Issues?

You and your spouse relocated to Washington for your new job. While your career has taken off, your marriage unfortunately went in the other direction. You have both decided a divorce is in the best interests of your family. However, your spouse wants to take the kids back to her home state. Does this sound familiar? Relocation is an understandably stressful divorce and child custody issue. Being informed and having the right attorney can make all the difference.

If you are a parent facing a potential relocation, you are probably wondering how the family court systems will determine this issue as well as what you can do to help with your situation. Judges will first look to the statutory guidelines in evaluating each case.

The Eleven Statutory Factors for Relocation

In the state of Washington, child relocation guidelines are set forth under RCW 26.09.520 titled "Basis for Determination." Under this statute there are eleven provisions or factors that are applied to the scenario at hand. Some of these factors include:

  • The strength and involvement of your relationship with your child as well as the relationship your child has with siblings, your spouse and other significant family members.
  • How much of a disruption the move would be for the child and whether it would be detrimental for the child.
  • The reason the requesting parent is relocating.
  • Age of the child as well as any special development needs of the child.
  • Whether the relocation will have a financial impact and if so in what way will it have an impact.

These are just some of the statutory factors that could be applied to your child relocation case. However, the judge will use these as a guideline and there is no set formula using these eleven factors. Ultimately, the best interests of the child are what are held in the highest regard for any child custody issue.

For more information about child relocation in Washington, seek the legal counsel of a knowledgeable lawyer who can help you determine the best course of action for your specific circumstance.

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