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Legal Information: Washington

Custody

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Updated: 
December 3, 2020

How will a judge decide if I can relocate with my child?

The law in Washington “presumes” that in most situations, a parent’s request to relocate will be allowed. This means that the judge will assume that moving with the child is in the child’s best interests. However, the other parent can object to the move and try to convince the judge to not allow the move. If a parent objects to the move, the judge will consider these factors when making a final decision:

  • the strength, nature, quality, and extent of involvement with the parents, siblings, and other people of importance in the child’s life;
  • any prior agreements between the parties;
  • whether it would be more harmful for the child to lose contact with the parent who is moving, or with the parent who is left behind;
  • whether either parent has parenting time restrictions due to domestic violence, sex crimes, or other offenses;
  • the reasons of each parent in seeking and opposing relocation;
  • the age and needs of the child, and what impact a move might have on the child’s development;
  • the quality of life and resources available to the child in either location;
  • the availability of ways to maintain a relationship with the left-behind parent;
  • any alternatives to relocation; and
  • the financial impact and logistics of the move.1

Note: If you and the other parent share “substantially equal parenting time” (45% to 55%), then the judge will not automatically assume (presume) that the move will be allowed. Instead, the judge will consider whether the move is in the best interests of the child.2

1 R.C.W. § 26.09.520
2 R.C.W. § 26.09.525