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Is It Possible to Relocate with Children After the Divorce?

July 20, 2021

2 young girls helping unpack moving boxesMore than 24,000 couples divorce in Washington every year. Approximately half of them involve custody disputes over minor children. Thousands of parents make major decisions that impact their children — who suddenly find themselves with more than one home.

Both parents must begin new lives after divorce, and for some, moving to a new city, state, or country is a possibility. If the custodial parent relocates the children after divorce, it can be difficult for everyone involved, including the children.

If you are considering divorce, are in the process, or are already divorced and the issue of relocating children is an option you want to explore, you should talk to an experienced Washington family law attorney. Whether you want to clear the way for relocation or you want to contest the custodial parent’s decision to relocate with the children, William E. Morgan, Attorney at Law, is here to help.

For more than 50 years, William E. Morgan has helped individuals and families in Grays Harbor County and Pacific County, Washington, including the surrounding areas of Montesano, Aberdeen, Hoquiam, South Bend, and Raymond — as they face the issue of relocating children after divorce. Attorney William E. Morgan has extensive experience helping families figure out how to get through some of the most difficult and emotional family issues — and he would be proud to help you and your family reach a peaceful resolution.

Can Children Be Relocated After Divorce?

The custodial parent has a great deal of latitude when it comes to relocating children after a divorce. However, in some situations, notice is required and the non-custodial parent, or anyone who has court-ordered visitation rights, can object to the move.

Moving Within The Current School District

If the custodial parent wishes to relocate the children within the school district attended at the time of divorce, they are required only to provide anyone with visitation rights of their new address, telephone number, and the identity of any new daycare provider or school. Although this can be done verbally, it is wise to relay this information in writing using a certified letter to verify notification. In the event of relocation within the same school district, others with visitation rights are not allowed to object to the move.

Moving Outside The Current School District

A custodial parent wishing to move outside the school district must provide notice to anyone with visitation rights at least 60 days prior to the move. They must have written notice served by a third party or by using a mode requiring a receipt, such as a certified letter.

In the event of an emergency move, for example, if the custodial parent has been transferred by the military, they must provide written notice within five days of confirmation of the move. If the emergency move is to a domestic violence shelter, the custodial parent has an additional 21 days to provide notice.

What Does A Notice of Relocation Include?

In addition to the time and service requirements for the Notice of Relocation when moving children to another school district, the content of the Notice must include specific information under Washington law. That information includes all of the following:

  • The address at which legal notice can be served throughout the duration of the objection process.

  • A brief statement providing specific reasons for the intended relocation.

  • Notice to the recipient that they have 30 days to file an objection with the court to the relocation and a revised visitation schedule/parenting plan or both will be approved as is. This information must be provided verbatim as included in Washington law.

  • As much information about the new location that can be known at the time of relocation, including the street address, city, and state.

  • The new mailing address, if different from the street address.

  • The new phone number, if known.

  • Information regarding the new daycare and/or school the children will be attending.

  • Intended date of relocation.

  • A proposed revised parenting plan including a visitation schedule.

The parent intending to relocate the children must update anyone with visitation rights of any new information as it becomes available.

What Factors Affect Relocation?

The ability to relocate children is guided by two factors, the waiting period and any objections filed with the court.

The Waiting Period

The waiting period is necessary to allow time for the legal process to occur. A parent intending to relocate the children should be careful about any violation of an existing court-ordered visitation plan. Generally, the relocating parent should wait at least 60 days after giving notice before moving, except when:

  • The moving parent can provide proof that the other parent does not object. In this case, the children can be moved within 30 days of notice.

  • No objection is filed with the court by the 30-day deadline.

  • The court renders a decision to allow the relocation or the relocating parent obtains a court order allowing the move.

Objections Filed with The Court

If the other parent or anyone with court-ordered visitation files an objection to the relocation, the court will consider the reasons for the relocation as well as the basis for the objection and render a decision about the intended move. As with all child custody matters, the court will be motivated by the best interests of the children. It will also consider:

  • Any relationships that the children have with others in their lives.

  • Any previous or existing agreements with the other parent, including any limitations due to a history of domestic violence or child abuse.

  • Potential harm the children could suffer from altering contact with the other parent.

  • The reasons the relocating parent wants to move and the reasons the other parent objects.

  • The developmental age of the children, any special needs, and the potential impact the move may have on them.

  • The quality of life, resources, and opportunities the move may offer the children and the custodial parent.

  • The opportunities for the other parent to continue their relationship with the children.

  • Alternatives to relocating the children and the non-custodial parent’s ability to also relocate.

  • The financial impact of relocation or of preventing relocation.

Allow William E. Morgan, Attorney
at Law To Help with Your Situation

As everyone knows, divorce can be extremely difficult for children. Most parents struggle to make major life decisions that will be in their children’s best interests, but there are always compromises in the process. When either parent is considering relocation, it is oftentimes toughest on the kids.

Whether you are a custodial parent considering relocation, or a non-custodial parent whose ex-spouse is intending to move your children, family law attorney William E. Morgan can help you navigate the legal process. He has been a compassionate advocate for parents and their children for more than five decades.

If you live in Grays Harbor County or Pacific County, Washington, including the neighboring areas of Montesano, Aberdeen, Hoquiam, South Bend, or Raymond, and you are facing this emotional legal issue, you don’t have to face it alone. Call William E. Morgan, Attorney at Law, today to receive experienced and compassionate legal counsel.