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Can shared parenting work after post-divorce relocation?

Perhaps your employer offered you a great job in another city. Obviously, this means relocation and brings up many issues if you are divorced and have custody of your child.

As the custodial parent, you want to take your 8-year-old daughter along when you move. First, the other parent will have to agree. Second, you and your ex will have to revise the current parenting agreement. Finally, and most important, you will need to ensure that the distance will not affect your daughter's relationship with her other parent.

Relocation is a common activity

According to statistics cited by Psychology Today, 16 percent of U.S. residents move every year and 43 percent move to a location some distance away from their current area. The 20-34 age group shows the most relocation activity, and the members of this group are the most likely to have young children.

Washington has specific requirements

To begin the process of approval for your relocation request, you must first serve the noncustodial parent with a Notice of Intended Relocation. If your ex objects to the move, the court will have to make the final determination. You must be able to show sufficient cause for the intended move, and the court often looks favorably on a request that involves a new job.

The court uses statutory factors 

In reviewing your relocation request, the court will use 11 statutory factors. For example, the judge will want to know about the needs of your child and how the move will affect her physical, emotional and educational development. The judge will also want to know about the quality of life in the new location. The court will always make a decision based on the child’s best interests.

Here's how to make it work

You and the other parent must develop a new co-parenting plan if the court approves your relocation request. Ideas to consider may be extended time in the summer for the noncustodial parent to spend with the child or extra holiday time. You and your ex might also split the cost of visitation travel. In the meantime, allow your ex to step up contact with your daughter through the use of phone calls, email or the webcam. These are among the many ways you can make shared parenting work following post-divorce relocation.

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