May 2015 Bar Bulletin
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May 2015 Bar Bulletin

Moving ... with Children

By Kim Ositis
Assistant Law Librarian for Reference Services

 

In keeping with this month's theme of Moving, I'm going to provide a bit of background information and highlight a few resources for researching moving with children - commonly referred to as relocation.

In determining what law a particular custody situation is governed by, it's helpful to understand some history of Washington's relocation law.

The current relocation statutes (RCW 26.09.405-.560) replaced confusing precedents set forth in the prevailing case law at the time found in In re Marriage of Littlefield, 133 Wn.2d 39, 940 P.2d 1362 (1997); Bower v. Reich, 89 Wn. App. 9, 964 P.2d 359 (1997); and In re Marriage of Pape, 93 Wn. App. 96, 968 P.2d 417 (1998), rev'd, 139 Wn.2d 694, 989 P.2d 1120 (1999).

The Parental Relocation Act (2000 c 21) applies to decrees after June 8, 2000, and to earlier decrees that did not specifically address relocation. In an unusual step, the Legislature included a specific intent statement, noting, "By this act, the legislature intends to supersede the state supreme court's decisions In Re the Marriage of Littlefield ... and In Re the Marriage of Pape ...." (2000 c 21 1).

Once you have determined the Relocation Act applies, the next question is what notice is required and this typically depends on the distance of the relocation. Moving within the child's current school district is the easiest scenario. This move requires actual notice (in any form, though certified mail is best) to every person with visitation rights of the new address and phone number, any new care providers or school, the date of intended relocation and a proposed parenting plan, if any. Objections are not allowed in this situation under RCW 26.09.450.

A move outside of the child's school district requires a 60-day notice under RCW 26.09.440. In domestic-violence situations, a custodial parent can ask the court for an ex parte order under RCW 26.09.460 to waive some of the notice requirements. Per RCW 26.09.480, non-custodial parents can file an objection to relocation within 30 days of service of the notice of intended relocation.

The Washington courts have created mandatory pattern forms for use in relocation cases: http://www.courts.wa.gov/forms/?fa=forms.contribute&formID=6.

The King County Family Law Facilitators site hosts instruction sets for relocation (look for packets R-1, R-2 and R-5) that are specific to practice in King County Superior Court: http://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/scforms/familylaw/flenglish.aspx.


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