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Understanding Washington child relocation determinations

Parents in Washington State who share a child will frequently have to deal with numerous issues related to child custody and visitation. In some cases, the custodial parent will make the decision to relocate with the child.

If a parent is planning to relocate, he or she must provide reasons for this intention. While there is an assumption that the relocation will be allowed by the court, it can be rebutted. The other parent must show that the relocation will have a detrimental effect on the child, and it will outweigh the benefit to both the child and the person who wants to relocate. There are several factors that will be considered when the decision is made whether or not to allow the relocation.

The following will be taken into account: the relationship the child has with each parent, siblings and other important people in his or her life and how strong and stable the relationships are; if there was an agreement between the parties before the decision to relocate; if the disruption in contact will be more of a detriment than the disruption of contact between the child and the objecting parent; and if either of the parents or another person who is entitled to have residential periods with the child is restricted in the relationship with the child by relocation.

In addition, the following will be considered: the reasons why there is a the decision to relocate or an objection to it; how old the child is, at what developmental stage he or she is, and the influence the relocation will have; the quality of life, opportunities and resources the child will have in the new location; if there is an alterative agreement possible to maintain the relationship with the objecting parent; what the financial impact will be; and, if there is a temporary order, how long before a decision can be made by the court.

A relationship with children can be hampered if there is a relocation, but some parents deem it necessary for the relocation to take place. Parenting time can be affected by a relocation. Parents who are dealing with a child custody issue linked to relocation need to understand how to deal with it from both perspectives with help from an attorney experienced in parental rights.

Source: Leg.Wa.gov, "RCW 26.09.520 - Basis for determination," accessed on Dec. 15, 2015

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