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Family law: What happens when one parent wants to move?

In some respects, your parenting plan reflects the time in your life when you were getting divorced or separating from your child's other parent. While designed to work well into the future, parenting plans may sometimes need modifications, especially as your family's needs change.

One such scenario is when one parent wishes to relocate. The move could be as simple as moving into Seattle or as complex as moving across state lines or even abroad. Whatever the reason for the move, it will likely require modifications to your existing parenting plan. Here are a few things to consider.

If you are not the one moving

If your child's other parent expresses a desire to move, your immediate reaction may be to oppose the move outright. However, it's best to listen carefully and attempt to work things out with him or her if you can. In general, you have 30 days to respond to a notification of intent to move, so if you object to the move, make sure you file this notice within that time frame.

You could also petition for sole custody, but know that it could be an uphill battle. You will need to present evidence that maintaining sole custody and keeping children in Kent will be in their best interests.

If you wish to move away

The same could be said if you wish to move away with your children. You will need to prove to the court that the move will be in the child's best interests. Some eligible scenarios would be if you are moving for a new job that would provide more opportunities for them, or to be closer to grandparents or cousins who could help with childcare.

Whatever you do, do not move without giving notice to the other parent. If you do, you could be held in contempt of your existing parenting plan and/or accused of kidnapping.

How technology can help

In general, Washington State law prefers that children maintain relationships with both parents. With technology the way it is today, it is more possible than ever to stay connected long-distance. Skype, FaceTime and social media are great ways to help families stay connected, no matter how many miles are between them. Regardless of which side of this issue you fall on, including such regular contact via technology into any modification agreement can be one way to minimize the negative impacts of the move.

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