Negotiating child custody arrangements during your divorce was already a difficult task, but if you now find yourself needing to relocate, the situation becomes even more complex. The courts emphasize and encourage the active involvement of both parents in their children’s lives, even after divorce.
Consequently, many divorce decrees involving shared children include provisions regarding the geographical area where the primary custodial parent must reside, known as a domicile restriction. If you are subject to such a restriction and have to move, it is crucial to petition the court for a child custody modification prior to your relocation.
Conversely, if your ex intends to relocate with your children and you wish to prevent it, you will need to seek court intervention. Although seeking a modification for relocation or opposing such a move can be intricate, a skilled relocation lawyer can guide you towards the best course of action.
If the judge in your case determines that your relocation is in the best interest of your children and does not infringe upon the rights of the other parent, it is likely that your petition for relocation will be granted.
Regrettably, it’s a common occurrence for homeowners and contractors to forego formal written agreements, instead relying on bids or invoices. This practice has resulted in numerous lawsuits due to misunderstandings that could have been avoided if the parties had clarified their expectations from the outset. To prevent such conflicts, it’s crucial to include specific construction tasks in writing, written change orders for any work beyond the original contract, an attorney’s fees clause, payment dates and schedules, and a total project cost not to exceed. If you’re a homeowner and a contractor took your deposit but failed to complete or poorly executed the work, you can seek legal action against them and their bond if available.
On the other hand, if you’re a contractor and a homeowner refuses to pay you for your agreed-upon work, you can file a lien on the property where the work was carried out to secure payment.
When Both Parents Agree on Relocation
If one parent needs to relocate and the other parent agrees to the plans, court involvement is unnecessary. However, it is advisable to file a written agreement with the court to prevent potential issues if your ex later denies the agreement and accuses you of violating the child custody terms established during the divorce. WA courts only enforce domicile restrictions when a parent files a complaint, citing a violation and requesting enforcement. Should your ex-spouse change their stance, you may face such a complaint.
If Your Ex Objects to Your Relocation
If you are the parent planning to relocate and your ex disagrees with the move, you must either find a mutually acceptable resolution or present the matter to the court by filing a motion to modify. In making its decision, the court will consider several factors, including:
- Motivation for Moving: The court will carefully evaluate your reasons for relocating, seeking genuine motives such as career advancement that would result in improved financial benefits for your children, better educational opportunities, or any direct benefit to your children’s well-being. Conversely, if you aim to prevent your ex from moving with your children, it is essential to understand that the court views moves driven by parental alienation unfavorably.
- Impact on the Noncustodial Parent: The court will thoroughly assess how your proposed move will affect the parent who will remain in the current location. You will need to demonstrate how visitation with the other parent can be maintained, possibly assuming responsibility for travel expenses. The court seeks solutions that address the unique circumstances involved. Additionally, the noncustodial parent’s history of consistent visitation with your children will be taken into account, and a pattern of consistent absences may not support their case.
- Effect on Relationships with Extended Family: The court recognizes the importance of maintaining relationships with both sides of the child’s extended family. Therefore, it will evaluate the impact your proposed move may have on these relationships.
- Children’s Wishes: Depending on the ages of your children, the court may inquire about their preferences regarding the move.
- Other Relevant Factors: The court has the discretion to consider any other factors related to the proposed move that it deems relevant. Ultimately, the court’s primary concern is the best interests of the children involved, and it will explore any relevant aspects to reach a decision.