I am the custodial parent, I am wanting to move to Montana within a year from June 2016. I have a 10 year old child who does not want to live with the other parent and the child is completely attached to me and has separation anxiety when she leaves me for the weekend to visit the other parent. I am looking at better jobs, and cheaper living situations. It is cheaper in Montana to live than in Washington State. I get no help from the other parent with childcare or anything else. I barely get $351 a month child support garnished from his wages. He gives up weekends with his kid to go on trips or to visit others and he has done that 2x this year so far. My child feels like she rates last in his life and the parent spends more time with the spouse then her. I have made cps reports in the past and her counselor has made a cps report against the step sibling trying to do inappropriate things to her. The child has always lived with me and not the other parent. I want to know if my child is old enough to have a voice to say what the child wants and the judge will go with that, the feelings of the child.
You are looking at a relocation action pursuant to RCW 26.09.430-4.80. It should be referenced in your parenting plan under 3.14. Essentially, you have to provide notice to the opposing party of your intent to relocate. If the opposing party does not file an objection within 30 days of the notice of intended relocation, you are permitted to relocate and if you provided a revised residential schedule it may be confirmed.
Typically, the courts run the gamut in determining what the best interest of the child is. On top of that, however, the courts will look at what the best interest of the relocating parent is. Improvements in your quality of life, ability to earn income, ability to access family members, etc. come into play when making the determination. This will be weighed against removing the child from her friends, family, and social obligations here in Washington.
If you have a parenting plan, and the child resides primarily with you, then you must follow the relocation statute (summarized in your parenting plan) and give 60 days written notice of your intent to relocate, along with your proposed new parenting plan. If he fails to object in 30 days, then you can go to court and have your new parenting plan with the relocation approved. If he objects, he does so by filing a petition to modify and the court will have to determine whether you can relocate the child and what the parenting plan will look like.
There is a statutory presumption that the primary residential parent can relocate, however, this is a rebuttable presumption, meaning the other parent can present facts to argue this.
RCW 26.09.520 addresses the statutory factors the court is to consider in making a decision.
I strongly suggest you talk to an experienced family law attorney to discuss the process.
You should consult with an attorney so that someone can explain the factors that the court considers in order to make a decision about whether to allow you to relocate your child to Montana.
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