Whether your divorce is final or you are in the middle of your divorce proceedings, deciding to relocate can have a strong impact on your custodial agreement. Especially if you are the custodial parent, there may be certain hurdles that you will have to overcome. Here are a few things to consider before proceeding with your relocation case.
If you are having to relocate following a divorce, it can be difficult to imagine living hundreds or even thousands of miles away from your children. Technology makes it easier to keep up with your kids these days, but you will have to make an effort. You cannot put the burden on your children to reach out to you.
You and your spouse are divorcing, and custody is a big issue. This is a common problem, and one with no easy answers. Naturally, the best interests of your child should be of top concern. In fact, this is the criteria that a court will use to make custody determinations should you and your partner not be able to do so. To help you negotiate an arrangement that works best for all involved, consider the factors that the court uses to make these determinations.
Your divorce is finally done and the final judgment has been filed. You have custody of your children, but the military is going to throw a monkey wrench into your plans because you know that your spouse is going to use a deployment against you to gain the custody you fought so hard for. Washington provides policy for these situations via RCW 26.09.260(1).
Co-parenting after a divorce presents many challenges even when both parents live in the same area. However, if the custodial parent decides to move to a new city or state with the child, many difficult issues arise. The non-custodial parent will be unable to see the child as frequently as before. Travel is an added expense for both parties. The child is subjected to a major change that has the potential to greatly disrupt his or her life. For these reasons, many non-custodial parents file court proceedings to bar relocation if at all possible. The custodial parent sometimes has no choice but to move - for example, due to a job change or military orders. Having an excellent attorney often means the difference between a court order barring or allowing relocation.
In a "'best case" divorce scenario, both parents are friendly and amicable with one another, sharing parenting responsibilities and acting in their child's best interest. Unfortunately, many divorces are not amicable, and parental alienation can result.
After a divorce has been finalized and a custody plan is in place, things often can and do change in the parents' and child's lives. If the original custody order is no longer working, either parent or other custodial adult can work with a lawyer to petition the courts for a modification to the plan.
The divorce was finalized last year. You have finally adjusted to a custody and parenting schedule that works well for both you and your former spouse. Most importantly, it seems to work well for your children. Yet suddenly, your former spouse e-mails you and tells you she wants to move back home and out of Washington. This is the last thing you expected and there is no chance of you getting a new job anytime soon. What do you do now?
Objectives of a Parenting Plan (RCW 26.09.184)
The objectives and contents of a permanent Parenting Plan are identified in RCW 26.09.184(1): "The objectives of the permanent parenting plan are to: (a) Provide for the child's physical care; (b) Maintain the child's emotional stability; (c) Provide for the child's changing needs as the child grows and matures, in a way that minimizes the need for future modifications to the permanent parenting plan; (d) Set forth the authority and responsibilities of each parent with respect to the child, consistent with the criteria in RCW 26.09.187 and 26.09.191; (e) Minimize the child's exposure to harmful parental conflict; (f) Encourage the parents, where appropriate under RCW 26.09.187 and 26.09.191, to meet their responsibilities to their minor children through agreements in the permanent parenting plan, rather than by relying on judicial intervention; and (g) To otherwise protect the best interests of the child consistent with RCW 26.09.002."
Americans who serve in the U.S. Military make substantial sacrifices for their country. In addition to risking death, many who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have come home with permanent and life-changing injuries – both physical and psychological.