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When do Washington State courts permit child relocation?

Many separated parents might agree that certain circumstances in their lives, such as remarriage or job change, may require them to relocate to another city or state. In such a situation, many parents wish to take their child to a new city or state to live. Washington State family law acknowledges such situations and permits relocation as long as there is no objection from the other parent, who must prove that the relocation will not cause more harm than good to the child.

However, if the other parent does not agree with the relocation, that parent must prove certain factors in court in order to establish how the relocation will negatively affect the child. Those factors contribute to the best interest of the child. For example, the court must be convinced that the parent who wishes to relocate with the child is not doing so as an attempt to destroy the relationship of the child with the other parent or any other significant person in the child's life.

The parent objecting to the relocation must also prove that relocation to another city or state will significantly affect the existing child custody and visitation arrangements. That parent may also maintain the child custody and visitation agreement that was outlined in the couple's prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

Additionally, the parent who is trying to stop the relocation may also have to prove that the quality of life and care in the new city or state will not be as good as what the child experiences presently. In fact, that parent may also try to convince the court to suggest an alternative to the relocation if that suggested alternative can be proven beneficial for the child.

Child relocation laws in Washington State may look fairly simple on paper but when parents have to attend courtroom or mediation sessions, it may benefit them if they have someone by their side who has an in-depth understanding of the state's family laws.

Source: Leg.WA.gov, "RCW 26.09.520 Basis for determination," Accessed on March 27, 2015

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