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CHILD CUSTODY: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN ONE PARENT WANTS TO MOVE AWAY?

Situations happen sometimes in life where a parent who shares custody with another parent has an opportunity that requires them to relocate. However, even if the move is in good faith, it can raise a number of issues. Whether you are the relocating parent or the one who is not moving, here is some helpful information for the challenges ahead.

What you need to know as a divorced parent wanting to relocate

The first step you must take if you intend to move with your kids is to file a notice of intent. The form should be filed at least 60 days prior to the move in the same county where the divorce was filed or the parenting plan was entered. While there are some exemptions to the 60-day notice, you need to be prepared to provide evidence as to why you must move quickly. Parents who fail to file the notice may be penalized with fines and jail time, and may be required to return the child to the other parent's home.

How to address changes in a custody arrangement due to a move

If a custody order is in place, then the relocation request should be taken to court to evaluate the situation. If the non-custodial parent has a close and involved relationship with the child and the move is allowed, the court may restructure the visitation schedule. In addition to granting a change in the schedule, courts may take other actions to alleviate some of the financial burdens on the non-custodial parent. This can include a reduction in child support or request for the custodial parent to cover travel expenses.

What to do if you intend to fight a relocation request

If your ex plans to relocate with the children and you intend to fight this request, the first step is to work with an attorney to file an objection with the court within 30 days of the notice of intent. A hearing will then be scheduled by the judge to evaluate the situation. Washington law states that the objecting parent must be able to prove that the negative effects of the move would outweigh the benefits. There are ten factors the courts will consider, including nature of the relationship between parent and child, prior agreements, financial impact and quality of life.

Whether you intend to relocate with your child or are objecting to a relocation request, it is best to speak with a knowledgeable attorney about your case. At O'Brian & Associates, our attorneys can assist you in all legal aspects of your relocation issue.

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