How to Courts Decide if I Can Move With My Child?

When you have custody of your child, but share visitation, your ability to make big decisions often changes. For example, you cannot typically get up and move to another state with your child without due processes first.

Relocating a significant distance with your child can change the family relationships already in place and can require legal action. If you and the child’s other parent are unable to agree on the move, you will likely have to appear before a court to resolve the issue. Here are a few ways that the courts will decide if you can relocate:

  1. Express consent – If you have a custody or parenting agreement already, the court will look at anything that talks about relocation. Any express consent and changes in visitation that relate will be considered.
  2. Notice – In Washington, you are required to give written notice to the other parent. This must happen 60 days before you move. If you go to court to discuss relocation and the noncustodial parent’s objection to it, the courts will want to make sure you gave proper notice.
  3. Distance – You can move within your child’s school district without needing the consent of the other party. However, if you’re moving farther and they object, the courts will need to decide.
  4. Good faith – You may need to prove “good faith,” which means that you will be relocating in the best interest of your child. Good faith reasons include things like moving to be closer to family, starting a new job or going back to school.
  5. Noncustodial objection – Courts will also consider why the noncustodial parent is objecting. Are they doing it out of spite, or do they regularly visit the child and legitimately want to stay near them?
  6. Modification proposal – As the relocating parent, you will likely need to provide a proposal for the changes. This will include any modifications to your parenting plan, custody, visitation, and travel costs.

If you are going to be moving with your child, it’s best to be prepared for legal action. Make sure you have a plan for how the relocation will change your parenting and visitation agreement.

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