If there is a parenting plan in place, can I relocate with my child?
There are different procedures to follow if you are planning to move somewhere that keeps your child within the same school district or if you plan to move somewhere that would change your child’s school district.
Moving within the same school district
If you plan to move to someplace within your child’s same school district, you do not have to follow all of the notification steps referred to below. Instead, you can give “actual notice” by any reasonable means to everyone entitled to residential time or visitation with the child under a court order. The other parent or other person with court-ordered visitation has the right to file to try to modify the order if s/he wishes to do so but there isn’t a formal “notice of objection to the move” that s/he could file.1
Moving to somewhere outside of the child’s school district
If your child lives with you a majority of the time and you are looking to relocate with your child outside of your child’s school district, you have to give notice of your planned (intended) move to every other person who is entitled to residential time or visitation with the child under the court order. Each person has the right to file an objection with the court to try to stop the move and serve it upon you personally within 30 days or within 33 days, if served by mail, of when the person received the notice of your intended move.2 If no objections are filed within the timeframe allowed, you may be able to move without further court action. You can read the law on our Selected Washington Statutes page, section 26.09.500. There is very specific information that must be included in the notice and specific requirements on how to serve the notice. Go to What type of notice do I have to give to the other parent if I want to relocate out of my child’s school district? for more information.
Note: Unless you have a court order saying otherwise, a parent who is intending to move cannot move the child’s principal residence during the time that the other parent has to object to the notice, which is 33 days from when s/he received your notice. Additionally, if the other parent asks for a hearing, which is scheduled for after that timeframe, you cannot move your child’s principal residence while awaiting that hearing.3
For more information, the Northwest Women’s Law Center has the following self-help packets about relocation, which you may find useful: Self-Help Guide for Getting an Ex Parte Order to Move with Your Children; Self-Help Guide to Following Washington’s Relocation Law; and Questions and Answers about Washington’s Relocation Law.
1 R.C.W. § 26.09.450
2 R.C.W. §§ 26.09.430; 26.09.480(1)
3 R.C.W. § 26.09.480(2)