We are a mobile society. Everything from job offers or school to new relationship can have us packing up and starting over. Yet in a divorce, moving with children is not always a foregone conclusion. In fact, each state handles the relocation of children differently. In Washington, if you are the primary custodian, it is presumed that your relocation will be allowed.
But before you get too excited, recognize that there are actually eleven different criteria that the court considers in whether to allow your 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.
Whether your wish is to relocate or prevent your children from relocating, an experienced attorney is a must. At Heritage Family Law, we understand that in either case, helping the children stay connected with both parents is important.