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Parental relocation should not hamper a child's best interests

Several parents in Spokane, Washington, and throughout the country may be going through a divorce right now. Besides assets and debts, an important aspect of divorce requiring ample thought and attention is related to the custody of children. In many divorce cases, one of the major issues that courts, parents, and children face is parental relocation.

Child custody arrangements in the United States vary from state to state. In Washington, courts either grant joint custody or sole custody of a child, depending on circumstances and with an intention to serve the best interests of the child. In many cases, it happens that the sole custodian of a child decides to move away to another city or state or even another country and this movement leaves the non-custodial parent feeling deprived of his or her role in the upbringing of the child.

There are some factors that a court considers in granting parental relocation permission. Courts need to be convinced that the relocation will not hamper stability and continuity in the child's life. Another aspect that courts review is the distance of the move. While short moves up to a few hours' drive may not be considered disruptive, greater distances will attract more scrutiny.

In Washington, a valid reason for relocation needs to be provided and courts may or may not allow the relocation based on the motive of the relocating parent. This is primarily because many children tend to have a stronger bond with one parent and a move may pose emotional challenges, especially at a young age. In many relocation cases, courts ask the children about their choice of residence and respect their opinion about their relationship with both parents.

For any parent seeking to relocate with their custodial children, consulting a family law attorney may be beneficial as he or she may be able to help them understand the nuances of the law and guide them through the process.

Source: Huffington Post, "In the Child's Best Interest: What It Means in Move-Away Cases," Lisa Helfend Meyer, Feb. 12, 2014

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