Relocating With Your Child When You Have a Final Parenting Plan

Aug 2020 | Family Law


Under Washington law, there are requirements for relocation with a child if you have a final parenting plan (court order) or share visitation rights with another person. It is important to know the requirements so that there are no legal repercussions.

Some form of notice is required whether you want to move within the same school district or out of the school district, although the notice requirements are different. If you fail to give proper notice to the other person and move with the child, the court could find you in contempt and order that the child must move back to the old location and/or pay attorney’s fees and costs to the other person.

  • I want to move within the same school district.

If the move is within the same school district, the relocating person must give notice to the other person, but it does not have to be formal. No specific form is required. A text, phone call, email, letter, or other form of communication is acceptable as long as the relocating person has communicated that he or she intends to move.

When a person is moving within the school district, there is no right to object and the person may move without the court’s permission.

  • I want to move out of the school district.

Moving out of the school district is generally going to be farther away, is a substantial change to routine, and therefore has stricter requirements. A specific form called a Notice of Intent to Relocate, is required and it must be delivered to the other person at least 60 days before the intended move. To deliver the form properly you must either have the other person personally served or mail the form to him or her with a return receipt. If you choose to mail the form, you must account for the time it takes to reach the other person, typically 3 extra “court” days. Should you also want to change the parenting plan because of this relocation, a proposed parenting plan must accompany the Notice of Intent to Relocate.

There are some exceptions to the required 60 days’ notice in situations involving domestic violence. For example, if the relocating person is moving to a domestic violence shelter notice may be delayed for 21 days. A relocating person may also ask the court for permission to leave information out of the Notice to Intent to Move with Children if he or she believes that giving notice would put him or herself, or the child at risk of harm. For more information, refer to your parenting plan or discuss your options with an attorney.

  • Objections to Relocation

If your child lives primarily with you, the law provides a rebuttable presumption that the intended relocation of the child will be permitted. The other person with whom you share visitation rights has the right to object to a move outside of the school district and to the proposed parenting plan.

An objecting person must file an Objection and Petition about Changing a Parenting Order within 30 days of receiving notice. To rebut the presumption, the objecting person must demonstrate that there is a detrimental effect to the move that outweighs the benefit of the move. RCW 26.09.520 lists several statutory factors that the court considers when making its decision. Going over these factors with an attorney is recommended.

If the relocating person does not receive an Objection within 30 days of giving the notice to move, the relocating person may move with the child. The relocating person should ask the court to enter the proposed parenting plan that was submitted.

If an Objection is received, then the relocating person may need to obtain the court’s approval to move while the trial date is pending.

Relocating when you have a parenting plan can be difficult to navigate. This article is intended to be a brief overview of the process and laws surrounding relocation and is in no way comprehensive. Please contact our Family Law Department if you are considering relocating and have questions about your specific case.