Washington state law establishes requirements for custodial parents who want to relocate. If you share custody and your child’s other parent wants to move away, you likely have legal recourse.

Review what the state says about relocation in custody cases to determine your next steps in this situation.

The status of custody

When no legal custody order exists, either parent can move with the child without the other parent’s permission. For this reason, you should have a custody order in place with the court even if you get along with your former spouse. Otherwise, Washington’s relocation law applies to all custody orders created since June 2000.

Provisions of the relocation law

Under Washington’s law, the other parent can move to a new residence with the child as long as he or she does not have to change school districts. Even in this case, you must receive notice from your coparent that includes the child’s new address, phone number, and new school or daycare information if applicable.

If the other parent wants to move outside the school district your child attends, he or she must give you written notice at least 60 days before the target relocation date. You then have 30 days to file an objection indicating that the relocation does not serve your child’s best interests. The court will schedule a hearing to review both positions and make the determination that best supports your child’s physical and emotional well-being.

When the court decides to allow relocation, the judge will issue an alternative parenting plan that will preserve your right to visitation or partial custody.