A notice of intent to relocate is required whenever the parent or custodian who has the children in their care the majority of the time plans to change the children’s residence. The other parties to a parenting plan may object to the majority parent’s intended relocation if the relocation will move the children outside of their current school district.
Relocations Outside the Children’s Current School District
When the majority parent is relocating outside of the children’s current school district they must provide written notice to the other parent of their intention to relocate. They must also provide their proposal for how the other parent or custodians of the child will have residential time with the children after the intended relocation. The Notice must be served on the other parent by personal service or by any type of mail requiring a return receipt. The Notice must be given 60 days before the date of the intended relocation of the child; or, no more than five days after the date that the majority parent or custodian become aware of the need to relocate if it is not possible to give 60 days notice.
The notice must include a service address where the non-relocating parties may serve their objection; the specific reasons for the intended relocation; and notice to the non-relocating parties that they must file an objection to the intended relocation of the child, or to the proposed residential schedule, with the court and the relocating party within 30 days of service or the relocation of the child will be permitted and the proposed residential schedule will become the permanent residential schedule.
The Notice must also include the date of the intended relocation; the specific street address of the new residence or the city and state if the specific address is not yet known; the home telephone number; and the name and address of the child’s new school or daycare facility.
Objection to Relocation or Proposed Revised Residential Schedule.
The non-relocating parent must file their objection within 30 days of receiving the Notice of Intent to Relocate. Filing the Objection begins a court action to determine whether the relocation will be permitted. Most jurisdictions in Washington hear these matters on an expedited schedule. The Objection must be filed with the court and a copy of the objection must be served on the relocating party and on any other party who is entitled to residential time with the child. The Objection must be served by personal service or any type of mail that requires a return receipt at the service address listed in the Notice of Intent to Relocate. The objecting party must state the basis for their objection to the relocation. Once the Objection is filed, the relocating party may not relocate the child without permission from the court.
Factors Considered by the Court to Determine if Relocation Shall be Permitted
The court will begin their analysis with the presumption that the relocation will be permitted. The objecting party may overcome that presumption by demonstrating that the detrimental effect of the moving the children from the current location outweighs the benefit of relocating to the child and the relocating parent.
The following statutory factors are to be weighed by the court when deciding whether or not to permit a relocation:
(1) The relative strength, nature, quality, extent of involvement, and stability of the child's relationship with each parent, siblings, and other significant persons in the child's life;
(2) Prior agreements of the parties;
(3) Whether disrupting the contact between the child and the person with whom the child resides a majority of the time would be more detrimental to the child than disrupting contact between the child and the person objecting to the relocation;
(4) Whether either parent or a person entitled to residential time with the child is subject to limitations under RCW 26.09.191;
(5) The reasons of each person for seeking or opposing the relocation and the good faith of each of the parties in requesting or opposing the relocation;
(6) The age, developmental stage, and needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation or its prevention will have on the child's physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child;
(7) The quality of life, resources, and opportunities available to the child and to the relocating party in the current and proposed geographic locations;
(8) The availability of alternative arrangements to foster and continue the child's relationship with and access to the other parent;
(9) The alternatives to relocation and whether it is feasible and desirable for the other party to relocate also;
(10) The financial impact and logistics of the relocation or its prevention; and
(11) For a temporary order, the amount of time before a final decision can be made at trial.
Relocations Within the Child’s School District
The majority parent must provide written notice to the other parent or custodians of the child whenever they move the child. The Notice must be in writing and inform the other parent or custodian of the child’s new address, telephone number and the date the relocation will become effective. The non-relocating parties are not able to file a formal objection which begins a court proceeding to determine whether or not the relocation will be permitted, but they may seek to modify the parenting plan if they believe that the move is detrimental to the child. Parenting plan modifications are discussed under the Parenting Plan/Child Custody Modification Tab.