OVERVIEW OF CHILD RELOCATION
Thank you for your interest in our office and our legal services. It is our goal to provide you with professional and efficient legal services. In order to make you more fully aware of the future course of your child relocation proceeding it is important that you have full and complete information regarding the process through which your case will continue until its final conclusion.
Disclaimer: The following overview of the child relocation process is intended for information only and is not intended as a substitute for meeting personally with Gregory L. Davies and getting legal advice regarding your specific matter.
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A child relocation proceeding can be complex and confusing. Whether you decide to process your child relocation case yourself or hire our office to work with you there is no substitute for proper legal advice to ensure your child relocation case is properly prepared, filed, negotiated and finalized.
What is Child Relocation?
A child relocation legal proceeding involves a residential (custodial) parent request for court authorization to change the principal residence either permanently or for a protracted period of time of a child or children. And, such a relocation will disrupt the non-residential parent’s residential time (visitation) with a child or children and therefore necessitate a modification or change to a parenting plan for the child or children.
Required Notification of a Relocation:
A person with whom the child resides a majority of the time shall notify every other person entitled to residential time or visitation with the child under a court order if the person intends to relocate.
(1)The notice of an intended relocation of the child must be given by:
(a) Personal service or any form of mail requiring a return receipt; and
(b) No less than:
(i) Sixty (60) days before the date of the intended relocation of the child; or
(ii) No more than five (5) days after the date that the person knows the information required to be furnished under subsection (2) of this section, if the person did not know and could not reasonably have known the information in sufficient time to provide the sixty-days' notice, and it is not reasonable to delay the relocation.
(2)(a) The notice of intended relocation of the child must include:
(i) An address at which service of process may be accomplished during the period for objection;
(ii) a brief statement of the specific reasons for the intended relocation of the child; and
(iii) a notice to the non-relocating person that an objection to the intended relocation of the child or to the relocating person's proposed revised residential schedule must be filed with the court and served on the opposing person within thirty days or the relocation of the child will be permitted and the residential schedule may be modified pursuant to RCW 26.09.500.
The notice shall not be deemed to be in substantial compliance for purposes of RCW 26.09.470 unless the notice contains the following statement: "THE RELOCATION OF THE CHILD WILL BE PERMITTED AND THE PROPOSED REVISED RESIDENTIAL SCHEDULE MAY BE CONFIRMED UNLESS, WITHIN THIRTY DAYS, YOU FILE A PETITION AND MOTION WITH THE COURT TO BLOCK THE RELOCATION OR OBJECT TO THE PROPOSED REVISED RESIDENTIAL SCHEDULE AND SERVE THE PETITION AND MOTION ON THE PERSON PROPOSING RELOCATION AND ALL OTHER PERSONS ENTITLED BY COURT ORDER TO RESIDENTIAL TIME OR VISITATION WITH THE CHILD."
(b) The following information shall also be included in every notice of intended relocation of the child, if available:
(i) The specific street address of the intended new residence, if known, or as much of the intended address as is known, such as city and state;
(ii) The new mailing address, if different from the intended new residence address;
(iii) The new home telephone number;
(iv) The name and address of the child's new school and day care facility, if applicable;
(v) The date of the intended relocation of the child; and
(vi) A proposal in the form of a proposed parenting plan for a revised schedule of residential time or visitation with the child, if any.
(3) A person required to give notice of an intended relocation of the child has a continuing duty to promptly update the information required with the notice as that new information becomes known.
A form of a Notice of Relocation can be found at the Snohomish County Superior Court Clerk’s office or on the internet by logging on to the Washington State Pattern Forms website. Please refer to the “Services” and “Resources” page on our website for a link to the Washington State Court forms website.
When is Notice of a Relocation Not Required or Delayed:
Relocation Within the Child’s School District:
When the intended relocation of the child is within the school district in which the child currently resides the majority of the time, the person intending to relocate the child, in lieu of notice discussed above, may provide actual notice by any reasonable means to every other person entitled to residential time or visitation with the child under a court order.
A person who is entitled to residential time or visitation with the child under a court order may not object to the intended relocation of the child within the school district in which the child currently resides the majority of the time, but he or she retains the right to move for modification of the parenting plan.
If a person intending to relocate the child is entering a domestic violence shelter due to the danger imposed by another person, notice may be delayed for twenty-one days.
Address Confidentiality Program:
If a person intending to relocate the child is a participant in the address confidentiality program or has a court order which permits the party to withhold some or all of the information required by RCW 26.09.440(2)(b), the confidential or protected information is not required to be given with the notice.
Risk to the Health or Safety of a Person or Child:
If a person intending to relocate the child is relocating to avoid a clear, immediate, and unreasonable risk to the health or safety of a person or the child, notice may be delayed for twenty-one days.
Apply to the Court for an Order for a Waiver of the Notice Requirement:
A person intending to relocate the child who believes that his or her health or safety or the health or safety of the child would be unreasonably put at risk by notice or disclosure of certain information in the notice may request an ex parte hearing with the court to have all or part of the notice requirements waived. If the court finds that the health or safety of a person or a child would be unreasonably put at risk by notice or the disclosure of certain information in the notice, the court may:
(a) Order that the notice requirements be less than complete or waived to the extent necessary to protect confidentiality or the health or safety of a person or child; or
(b) Provide such other relief as the court finds necessary to facilitate the legitimate needs of the parties and the best interests of the child under the circumstances.
Failure to Give the Required Notice:
The failure to provide the required notice is grounds for sanctions, including contempt if applicable.
In determining whether a person has failed to comply with the notice requirements for the purposes of this section, the court may consider whether:
(a) The person has substantially complied with the notice requirements;
(b) The court order in effect at the time of the relocation was issued prior to June 8, 2000, and the person substantially complied with the notice requirements, if any, in the existing order;
(c) A waiver of notice was granted;
(d) A person entitled to receive notice was substantially harmed; and
(e) Any other factor the court deems relevant.
A person entitled to file an objection to the intended relocation of the child may file such objection whether or not the person has received proper notice.
Objection to Relocation or Proposed Revised Residential Schedule.
A party objecting to the intended relocation of the child or the relocating parent's proposed revised residential schedule shall do so by filing the objection with the court and serving the objection on the relocating party and all other persons entitled by court order to residential time or visitation with the child by means of personal service or mailing by any form of mail requiring a return receipt to the relocating party at the address designated for service on the notice of intended relocation and to other parties requiring notice at their mailing address.
The objection must be filed and served, including a three-day waiting period if the objection is served by mail, within thirty (30) days of receipt of the notice of intended relocation of the child. The objection shall be in the form of: (a) A petition for modification of the parenting plan pursuant to relocation; or (b) other court proceeding adequate to provide grounds for relief.
Effect of a Proper Objection to Relocation:
Unless Notice of Relocation is not required, the person intending to relocate the child shall not, without a court order, change the principal residence of the child during the period in which a party may object. The order required under this subsection may be obtained ex parte.
If the objecting party notes a court hearing to prevent the relocation of the child for a date not more than fifteen days following timely service of an objection to relocation, the party intending to relocate the child shall not change the principal residence of the child pending the hearing.
Failure to Timely or Properly Object to the Proposed Relocation:
If a person entitled to object to the relocation of the child does not file an objection with the court within thirty (30) days after receipt of the relocation notice, then the relocation of the child shall be permitted.
A non-objecting person shall be entitled to the residential time or visitation with the child specified in the proposed residential schedule included with the relocation notice.
Any person entitled to residential time or visitation with a child under a court order retains his or her right to move for modification.
If a person entitled to object to the relocation of the child does not file an objection with the court within thirty days after receipt of the relocation notice, a person entitled to residential time with the child may not be held in contempt of court for any act or omission that is in compliance with the proposed revised residential schedule set forth in the notice given.
Any party entitled to residential time or visitation with the child under a court order may, after thirty (30) days have elapsed since the receipt of the notice, obtain ex parte and file with the court an order modifying the residential schedule in conformity with the relocating party's proposed residential schedule specified in the notice upon filing a copy of the notice and proof of service of such notice. A party may obtain ex parte and file with the court an order modifying the residential schedule in conformity with the proposed residential schedule specified in the notice before the thirty days have elapsed if the party files a copy of the notice, proof of service of such notice, and proof that no objection will be filed.
How to Start a Child Relocation Case:
A child relocation proceeding is started in the superior court by the custodial parent filing a Petition to Modify a Parenting Plan or a non-residential parent filing an Objection about Moving with Children (Relocation) in the county where the child is a permanent resident or where the child is found.
Washington State has adopted mandatory pattern forms that are required to be used in child relocation proceedings. The pattern forms can be found online or purchased from the Snohomish County Superior Court Clerk. If you choose to prepare your own child relocation case you will need to obtain the proper forms. Please refer to our website in “Services” under “Resources” for links to the Washington State forms website and the Snohomish County Superior Court Clerk’s website.
If you choose to hire our office to assist you with your child relocation case our office will provide the appropriate pattern forms.
Current Filing Fee for a Child Relocation Case:
The filing fee currently charged by Snohomish County Superior Court Clerk for a Child Relocation case is $ 56.00 for an existing Snohomish County case (Modification) or $260.00 for filing a case with an out-of- county parenting plan.
Motion to Temporarily Allowing or Preventing Move with Children (Relocation):
A party seeking or preventing a relocation may file a Motion for Temporary Order Allowing or Preventing Move with Children. The motion must address the basis or factors a court must address to allow or prevent a child relocation.
Basis or Factors for a Court Granting or Denying a Relocation:
The person proposing to relocate with the child shall provide his or her reasons for the intended relocation.
There is a rebuttable presumption that the intended relocation of the child will be permitted.
A person entitled to object to the intended relocation of the child may rebut the presumption by demonstrating that the detrimental effect of the relocation outweighs the benefit of the change to the child and the relocating person, based upon the following factors.
The factors listed in this section are not weighted. No inference is to be drawn from the order in which the following factors are listed:
(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.
Factor Not to be Considered by the Court:
In determining whether to permit or restrain the relocation of the child, the court may not admit evidence on the issue of whether the person seeking to relocate the child will forego his or her own relocation if the child's relocation is not permitted or whether the person opposing relocation will also relocate if the child's relocation is permitted.
The court may admit and consider such evidence after it makes the decision to allow or restrain relocation of the child and other parenting, custody, or visitation issues remain before the court, such as what, if any, modifications to the parenting plan are appropriate and who the child will reside with the majority of the time if the court has denied relocation of the child and the person is relocating without the child.
Guardian ad Litem:
In contested relocation proceedings, the court may order an investigation and report concerning the proposed relocation and custodial arrangements for the child, or may appoint a guardian ad litem, or both. The investigation and report may be made by the guardian ad litem, the staff of the juvenile court, or other professional social service organization experienced in counseling children and families.
Criminal History Required:
Before granting any order final order regarding a parenting plan of a child, the court shall consult the judicial information system, if available, to determine the existence of any information and proceedings that are relevant to the placement of the child.
Agreement, Settlement or Mandatory Mediation:
Agreement or settlement is the preferred way to resolve a child relocation case. Parties have more control over the final outcome, it is generally less expensive and quicker to reach an agreement or settlement. If the child relocation case proceeds to trial the parties have lost control over the outcome and the expenses are greater. Parties may reach an agreement or settlement between themselves; parties may reach an agreement or settlement with the assistance of attorneys; or parties will be required to attend a mandatory mediation session with a neutral third-party mediator to try to reach an agreement or settlement.
If the parties have not reached an agreement or settlement either on their own or with the assistance of their attorneys, they are then required to attend mandatory mediation as a precondition for trial. Professional mediators generally charge between $250.00 to $300.00 per hour. Parties generally split this fee equally. Mediators expect to be paid before or at the mediation session. Parties engaging in mediation are expected to participate in good faith and make a reasonable effort to reach an agreement or settlement on any disputed issues. Parties are not required to reach an agreement or settlement and mediators have no authority to impose any decision on the parties regarding disputed issues.
Mediation sessions are confidential and neither party may disclose any discussions engaged in at mediation in any court proceeding. Mediators cannot be called as witnesses.
Expedited Trial on Relocation:
A trial will be necessary to resolve and finalize a child relocation case if the parties are not successful in reaching an agreement or settlement. A child relocation case is given priority on the Court’s trial calendar. In Snohomish County a trial is assigned generally within sixty (60) days and there is no pre-assignment of a judge for the relocation case. A child relocation case only goes to trial if the parties have engaged in mandatory mediation but were not successful.
At trial a judge will listen to both sides testify and present evidence regarding their respective positions and at the conclusion of the trial will render a decision detailing how the children are provided for both physically and financially.
The final parenting plan and relocation documents are then prepared by either the parties or their attorneys and then presented to the court for approval. Once the final documents are approved the child relocation case is final.
Attorney’s Fees and Costs
Our attorney’s fees are based on an hourly rate along with an estimate of the amount of time we believe it will take to finalize your relocation case. Our current fees are listed on our website in “Services” under “Fees.” Relocation cases that are resolved by agreement or settlement will cost less than ones that are contested and must be resolved by the court.
Note to Do-It-Yourselfers:
If you choose to do your own child relocation, we always recommend you have our office review your paperwork before you file it with the court. We do charge a minimal fee for this review or any other services you request. We also encourage you to consult with our office during the child relocation process as you feel the need. If, at any time, you feel overwhelmed with the child relocation process and doing it yourself we will be ready to take over your representation.
Our office keeps itemized billing records that are created at the same time as specific services provided for your case. This itemized billing statement is provided to you at the end of each month. You should review this billing statement carefully as it is not only a record of our time and charges for your case but also a record of our services provided.
Our office also prepares a written attorney fee agreement for each case. The agreement is signed by you and Gregory L. Davies. The original is kept in our client file and a copy is provided to you.
Thank you for your interest in our office and our legal services. If you have any questions concerning your child relocation case (or any other legal matter), whether you hire our office to work with you or you are processing your child relocation case yourself, please contact our office to set up an appointment to meet with Gregory L. Davies.
To find our find out more about how our law firm can help you with your legal needs, contact Gregory L. Davies, Attorney at Law, in Everett, Washington. Call (425) 259-2755 or email us.