If, after the finalization of your Washington divorce, you want to relocate out of state with your child, know that you have an uphill battle ahead of you. If you share custody of your child with your ex-spouse, the courts are likely to hesitate to disrupt your child’s current schedule and his or her relationship with the other parent. That said, the courts will not automatically deny you your request for relocation. VeryWell Family details a few considerations the courts will make before making a relocation decision.
Above all else, the courts will consider the best interests of the child. In fact, when parents head to court over a relocation dispute, it is not uncommon for the courts to automatically assume the relocation is not in the child’s best interests and to rule in favor of not disrupting the child’s life any more than necessary. Therefore, if you plan to relocate, the burden of proof rests on you to prove the relocation is what is best for your child.
To determine if the relocation is in the best interests of your child, the courts will reflect on a few different factors. For one, they will consider your child’s age and level of maturity. If your child is older, the judge may want to speak with him or her regarding his or her preferences about the move.
Two, the judge will assess the distance between your proposed location and your child’s existing home. If the distance is not too great, the judge is more likely to approve your request.
Three, the judge will consider whether or not the move will improve your child’s quality of life. Is the education system better or worse in your proposed location? What about the neighborhoods, extracurricular activities and entertainment options?
Four, the judge will want to see that you have a relocation plan in place. The judge will likely want to see that you know of possible schools and have extracurriculars lined up for your child in the new location.
Finally, you should address travel plans. If you show up to your hearing prepared with a plan that addresses vacation time, travel costs and continued contact with the other parent, the courts are much more likely to look favorably upon your request.
This content is for educational purposes only. It should not be construed as legal advice.