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Avoid custodial interference issues when relocating out of state

After Washington parents divorce, the relocation of one parent to another state is often an issue. This is particularly true if the parent with primary custody plans to take the children with him or her. The parent not moving must take action if they do not accept the relocation.

According to Findlaw, custodial interference occurs when a parent, relative or other person conceals a child from the parent or agency with physical custody. The circumstances determine whether the court files felony or misdemeanor charges.

First-degree felony charges may hold if the parent without physical custody intentionally denies access to the other parent by removing the child from the state if it is for a protracted period or if there is a substantial risk of illness or injury to the child. Second-degree custodial interference is a gross misdemeanor for a first conviction. While it does not involve taking the child out of state, it does include concealing with intent or if the individual does not comply with an existing court order.

The law recognizes Washington as the home state for six months after the move, which means any legal action occurs here as do requirements for a court appearance. Our Family Wizard reports that for parents with physical custody and a parenting plan in place, notifying the other parent in writing before out of state relocation takes place is necessary.

Even if the relocating parent has sole custody, notifying the other parent is recommended. Arranging contact with the child and letting the non-custodial parent know the destination can minimize the risk of facing custodial interference or kidnapping charges. 

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