The Fight to Stay: A Non-Custodial Parent’s Right to Object to Relocation
Whether it’s to pursue a dream, accept a job, or make a fresh start, relocating has become easier and more commonplace today. Parents can move their children and raise them in an environment they think is more suitable and sustainable.
Circumstances differ for non-custodial parents in Washington, however. Even if they do not have physical custody, they can contest the decision if the legal custodian wants to relocate the child.
Who Can Object to Relocation?
The right to object to the relocation relies on the location and visitation rights. The Washington Law Help, an online legal resource, says that a non-custodial parent can only object if 1) the court has granted him or her visitation rights, and 2) the child is moving to another school district. If these two requirements are not satisfied, then the legal custodian can relocate with the child without contention.
On the other hand, if the circumstance meets the two criteria, then the legal custodian needs to give at least 60-day notice to the non-custodian parent before the relocation date. The notice could either be done through mail with a return receipt or in person, but with a third party who signed a statement as proof. The document should contain important information, such as the new address and reasons for the move.
How Will the Court Decide?
The non-custodial parent then has 30 days to file an objection. When this happens, it helps to seek legal counsel from a child support law firm in Kent. The lawyer will help the non-custodial parent file the objection, build the case, and guide him or her through the proceedings.
Under Washington Law, the court presumes that the legal custodian can relocate with the child unless the non-custodial parent proves that the disadvantages of relocation outweigh the advantages. In building the case, the non-custodial parent and legal counsel consider the child’s best interests by considering factors like personal relationships, previous agreements, the child’s developmental needs, finances, cases of violence, abandonment, or abuse, among others.
If the non-custodial parent presents a compelling case, then the court will not permit them to move. Otherwise, the legal guardian and the non-custodial parent will revise the parenting plans to accommodate the relocation.
It’s imperative for a non-custodial parent to seek legal advice. The process may be long and complex, but it is for your child’s best interests, after all.