An Update To The Relocation Statute
By: Washington State Family Law Lawyer Anne B. Bennette
A Washington Court of Appeals recently differentiated 50/50 shared parenting plans from plans in which there is a named primary residential parent with respect to the intent to move with the child.
“A proposed relocation that would modify a joint parenting plan’s equal residential time to something less than equal residential time is in effect a change in residential placement. Such a change in residential placement requires an adequate cause finding under the modification statute. We therefore conclude that the CRA does not apply to a proposed relocation that would modify the joint parenting plan’s joint and equal residential time to something other than joint and equal residential time.” (emphasis added). In Re: Gretchen Ruff, FKA Worthley, Appellant v. William Worthley, Respondent – 48462-5-II.
Accordingly, if there is shared custody, a parent must have the Court first find that there is adequate cause to change a parenting plan in order to render a decision on a new parenting arrangement. Once adequate cause has been found, then the moving parent may move forward with a request for modification of the existing plan, but these cases are decided under the modification statute (RCW 26.09.260), not the relocation statute (RCW 26.09.405-560).
If, however, there is a primary parent named in the parenting plan (a person with whom the child resides a majority of the time), then no finding of adequate cause is necessary for the Court to render a decision on the relocation. The primary parent must provide notice of the intended relocation to the other parent at least 60 days in advance of the proposed moved (subject to limited exceptions as identified below) unless the move is within the same school district.
If the primary parent could not reasonably have known about the move and cannot reasonably delay the move (a military transfer, for example), then 5 days’ notice is required. If the primary parent is moving to a domestic violence shelter, then notice may be delayed for 21 days in addition to the 5 days’ notice and that parent is not required to divulge a confidential address.
If the primary parent intends to move outside of the school district and is not subject to any of the above exceptions, then that parent must provide notice of the intended relocation to the other parent. This notice must include the new address, contact information, and the school or daycare where the child will be attending. This notice should be served on the other parent and filed with the Court.
Once the notice of the intent to relocate has been served, the other parent has 30 days to object to the relocation. If the other parent does not object within 30 days, the court will permit the move.
If an objection is filed within the 30-day period, then the parent requesting the move may not move with the child until a Court has rendered a decision with respect to the move.
If you are intending to relocate with a child or have any questions regarding parenting plans, please contact Dimitra S. Scott or Anne B. Bennette in Beresford Booth’s Family Law Group.
Beresford Booth PLLC (425.776.4100), www.beresfordlaw.com.
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