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What factors will a court consider in parental relocation cases?

It is not unusual for parents in Washington to move. Perhaps, they were offered a better job in another city or state. They may want to live in a more desirable area of the country, or they want to live closer to family. However, when parents are not married, and the custodial parent wishes to relocate, there are certain legal factors that must be considered.

Per Washington State statutes, Section 26.09.520, if a parent wants to relocate with the child, he or she must provide the court with the reasons why he or she wishes to go. There is a rebuttable presumption that the parent will be allowed to relocate with the child.

This means that if the child's other parent objects to the relocation, the burden is on him or her to show that the detrimental effects, such a move would have on the child outweigh the benefits of the relocation. There are several factors the court will examine when it comes to determining whether a relocation should be allowed.

One factor is the strength and quality of the relationship the child has with each parent, along with siblings and other important people in the child's life. If the parents have any prior agreements, this may also be considered. The good faith reasons also given by each parent may also be considered.

Another factor is whether disrupting the contact between the child and custodial parent would be more detrimental than disrupting the contact between the child and the noncustodial parent. The child's age may be considered as will the impact a relocation or its prevention will have on the child's development.

Other factors that may be considered include the quality of life the child currently has and would have in the proposed geographical location. In addition, whether there are other arrangements that could be made to allow the child and the noncustodial parent to still have a relationship with one another will be considered.

These are only a few factors the court may consider; there are others. The decision as to whether to move is a big one, but it should not come at a detriment to the child. If a parent is seeking to relocate with the child or is opposed to such a relocation, he or she may want to consider seeking legal advice.

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