This depends on whether you are the primary residential parent under the parenting plan.
Primary Residential Parent
If you are the primary residential parent, Washington law requires you to provide the other parent with notice of the intended move at least 60 days in advance, when possible. In fact, this requirement applies even if you are just moving out of the children’s current school district. If the existing parenting plan will no longer be workable after the move, then you can propose a new parenting plan to take effect after the move.
After receiving notice of the intended move, the non-relocating parent can object to the move or request a new parenting plan based on the proposed new residence of the children. If the non-relocating parent objects to the move, then the court will schedule a trial date and ultimately decide whether the children are allowed to relocate.
The law provides a presumption that the primary residential parent will be allowed to relocate. In determining whether the non-relocating parent has overcome that presumption, the court will consider many factors, including the impact the relocation will have on the existing parenting plan, the logistics of maintaining contact with the non-relocating parent, etc.
If the court grants the relocation, then it will decide on a new parenting plan to accommodate the distance between the parents.
If the court denies the relocation, it cannot prevent you from moving. The court can only order that the children are not allowed to move. Although you cannot be asked this during the trial, if the court does not allow the children to relocate, you will then be given the option of relocating without the children or staying with the children.
If the non-relocating parent does not object to the move, the move will be allowed. If that parent did not propose a parenting plan, then the court will enter the parenting plan you proposed when you first gave the notice of relocation. If the non-relocating parent did propose a parenting plan, then the court will hold a trial to determine the new parenting plan, but the issue of relocation will not be disputed.
Non-Primary Residential Parent
If you are not the primary residential parent under the parenting plan, you are free to relocate without filing a notice of intended relocation. However, if the existing parenting plan will no longer be feasible, you will want to consider filing a petition to modify the parenting plan.
Nicole M. Bolan, Attorney at Law
Blado Kiger Bolan, Tacoma, Wash.