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Relocation with Children - Basis For Determination


The decision to relocate can have an immense impact on the children and the other parent’s time with them. A prior post discussed the process of Notice and Objection in relocation cases. This post discusses the basis for the court to determine a relocation matter once an objection has been timely filed.

There is a presumption that a relocating primary residential parent will be permitted to relocate the children unless the objecting parent can present evidence that outweighs this presumption. The objecting parent must demonstrate the detrimental effect of the relocation overcomes the benefit of the change to the child and the relocating person, based on eleven statutory factors (RCW 26.09.520). Courts have been consistent to set forth that the factors are not weighted and that no inference should be drawn from the order in which they are listed.

The factors are:

(1) The relative strength, nature, quality, extent of involvement, and stability of the child's relationship with each parent, siblings, and other significant persons in the child's life;

(2) Prior agreements of the parties;

(3) Whether disrupting the contact between the child and the person with whom the child resides a majority of the time would be more detrimental to the child than disrupting contact between the child and the person objecting to the relocation;

(4) Whether either parent or a person entitled to residential time with the child is subject to limitations under RCW 26.09.191;

(5) The reasons of each person for seeking or opposing the relocation and the good faith of each of the parties in requesting or opposing the relocation;

(6) The age, developmental stage, and needs of the child, and the likely impact the relocation or its prevention will have on the child's physical, educational, and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child;

(7) The quality of life, resources, and opportunities available to the child and to the relocating party in the current and proposed geographic locations;

(8) The availability of alternative arrangements to foster and continue the child's relationship with and access to the other parent;

(9) The alternatives to relocation and whether it is feasible and desirable for the other party to relocate also;

(10) The financial impact and logistics of the relocation or its prevention; and

(11) For a temporary order, the amount of time before a final decision can be made at trial.

Relocation cases are often amongst the toughest for families. Courts are very well aware that a relocation of a child, especially one that is a substantial distance, will change the relationship of the parents with the child forever. Often, because there is no middle ground (either the child moves away or stays), it is very difficult to settle child relocation cases, and a trial is had.

Ever since the inception of the Relocation Act, our firm has litigated child relocation cases with a tremendous amount of success for clients, both seeking to relocate and for those parents opposing the relocation of their children. Fully understanding the legal requirements of this Act, is paramount when facing a relocation case.

Family law litigation, including relocation with children, can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. We have years of experience helping our clients through the difficulty of family law and relocation actions and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at office@bainslawfirm.com, to talk about your case.

Disclaimer: All materials provided on this website have been prepared by Bains Law Firm for general information purposes only and no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and may not be relied upon as such. Only an attorney who can review the unique facts of each case and apply them to the statutes, case law and court rules can provide legal advice. Nothing in this website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.

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