How Do I File for Divorce In Washington State?

If you are married Most people do not live in the same home all their lives.  Moving is difficult under the best of circumstances.  And when you have children, it becomes even more difficult.  If you share custody of a child or children, then you have an additional consideration before you move: you need to give the other parent proper notice of your plan to move.  The Washington statute on relocation states that if you have a parenting plan, and are the primary parent, you more than likely need to give the other parent notice:

You are married either legally or through common law marriage in another state or country. (Washington does not have common law marriage.)

You or your spouse live here and plan to stay here, OR you are in the military and will be stationed here for at least 90 days after you file and serve your divorce petition.

One spouse believes the marriage is broken (cannot be fixed).

You file and serve the Summons and divorce petition properly.

So, what type of notice do you have to give?  And how far in advance of your move do you have to give it?  In most instances, when you are moving outside of your child’s current school district, you must provide the other parent with the address of where you are moving, your new phone number, your child’s new school, the reasons for your move, and your proposed new parenting plan.  The full set of requirements is set forth in RCW 26.09.440.  This notice must be given at least sixty (60) days before your intended relocation, unless you didn’t find out about your potential move within that time window, and delaying the move would not be reasonable.

If you are simply moving within your child’s current school district, the requirements are much less strict.  Instead of the formal requirements discussed above, all you need do is “provide actual notice by any reasonable means to every other person entitled to residential time or visitation with the child under a court order.”  RCW 26.09.450.

There are exceptions to the relocation notice requirement, such as for victims of domestic violence, or to avoid risking your or your child’s safety.  However, in most cases, if you have a parenting plan and are the primary custodian, you’ll need to let the other parent know you’re moving.  If you don’t, you may be subject to sanctions, including contempt.  And the other parent may bring an objection to your relocation.

For the required Washington state forms for relocation and objecting to relocation, you can visit the Washington State Courts forms website.  If you have further questions about the relocation process, or other divorce and custody questions, please give us a call at 360-695-3695.

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