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In Oregon state, how difficult would it be for one parent to relocate out of state if they have a 50/50 residential schedule?

Portland, OR |

My ex-wife is currently attempting to relocate from Seattle to Portland with our 4 year old son. She currently has the majority of the residential schedule (65/35). I'm objecting to the relocation but chances are she'll be allowed to relocate since Washington State provides a presumption in favor of relocation on behalf of the parent with the majority of the residential schedule. I refuse to live in a separate city from my son so if I have to, I will likely follow her but for obvious reasons, would prefer not to make a habit of following her for the next 14 years. Are there any Portland based lawyers here who could address Oregon state relocation statutes?

Thanks all for your feedback - most helpful! Herb, when you wrote: " the burden of trying to stop a relocation is on the non-custodial parent (another concept that is different than WA law)" - did you mean to say the burden is on the custodial parent? I'm confused since in WA state the burden is on me (the non-custodial parent) to prove that the move is not in the best interest of our child? Also, my ex-wife currently maintains the majority of the residential schedule but if I were to follow her, I will be hoping to secure a 50/50 schedule. In the event that she were to agree to this, would it be substantially more difficult for her to move again if we had a 50/50 arrangement versus our current 65/35 schedule (according to Oregon law, that is?) Does Oregon designate a custodian even in 50/50 parenting plans? Thanks again!

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Best Answer

I'm licensed in both Oregon and Washington and there is a huge difference in how the states handle relocation cases. Your statement of Washington law is correct and it is difficult to be successful in challenging a relocation. The focus needs to be on what is best for the child which also is related to the reason for the move.

If this were an Oregon case, there are no specific statutes (like there are in Washington) that deal with relocation. We have a notice requirement if one parent is moving more than 60 miles away, but the burden of trying to stop a relocation is on the non-custodial parent (another concept that is different than WA law). Generally speaking, the caselaw in Oregon is that the moving parent must show that the minor child will be "better served" by the relocation. Generally, this is difficult to show if there is an active dad who the child is very bonded to (sometimes we have to hire an expert to prove this). I have successfully litigated both sides of the argument in the past and would be happy to chat with you more if you are interested.

As an aside, this will only become an Oregon case if you both move out of Washington. If one of you continues to reside in Washington (e.g. one of you ends up living in Vancouver, as opposed to Portland), then Washington still has subject matter jurisdiction over these issues and any further relocations would be examined under WA law, not OR.

Good luck.

Joanne Reisman

Joanne Reisman


Under the UCCJEA (Uniform child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act) the first court to determine custody continues to have custody until there is a decision that another court takes over. Both parents moving out of the state could be a reason to transfer the jurisdiction, but it is not automatic. Your best strategy is to assume that Washington will continue to have jurisdiction over the case unless and until there is a formal order transferring the case and making the finding required to do so under the UCCJEA. As for Oregon - if this falls under Oregon Law - the way the cases go is very perplexing. Attorneys don't have anyway of predicting with certainty.

Joanne Reisman

Joanne Reisman


Sorry - my fingers are not typing what I am intending to type. This should say "the first court to determine custody continues to have jurisdiction"


The most important document is the Custody Judgment or Divorce Judgment. The language in it should have a 60-mile restriction on moving without the other parent's permission. Give me a call and I would be happy to discuss this with you. 503-650-9662 Diane

Be sure to designate "best answer." If you live in Oregon, you may call me for more detailed advice, 503-650-9662. Please be aware that each answer on this website is based upon the facts, or lack thereof, provided in the question. To be sure you get complete and comprehensive answers, based upon the totality of your situation, contact a local attorney who specializes in the area of law that involves your legal problem. Diane L. Gruber has been practicing law in Oregon for 26 years, specializing in family law, bankruptcy, estate planning and probate. Note: Diane L. Gruber does not represent you until a written fee agreement has been signed by you and Diane L. Gruber, and the fee listed in the agreement has been paid.


What court originally decided custody? If this was done in an Oregon Court, the Oregon Court still has jurisdiction and a motion may need to be filed to prevent her from moving with the children. Oregon will not apply Washington Law.

However Oregon does not enforce joint custody - it will convert the custody to one parent having custody if a joint custody situation no longer will work on a voluntary basis between the parents.

The Oregon Court may or may not prevent the children from being moved. There is no single rule on this. Each ease is reviewed by the court in a subjective fashion.

The mother always has the right to move, but not the right to take the children. It is very hard to predict when the Oregon Courts will allow children to move and when the Oregon Courts won't. It is always best if the parents work out some type of agreement.

Sometimes a move is necessary so a parent can take a job. When parents live a distance apart there are other ways to share the parenting time. Many parents trade off summers and the school year. The children are in one place for school and travel to spend the summer with the other parent. Seattle, while a long drive, is still within driving distance so it would allow you to attend important events for the children and to bring them to Portland for holidays and weekends. One possibility is to agree with mom to meet halfway to share the driving. So consider all the possible ways to deal with this new situation. Talk to and attorney and get something filed if you want to stop the move.

The comments by this author to questions posted on Avvo are designed to foster a general understanding of what might be the law governing the area of the legal problem stated and suggest what might be the approach to finding a legal solution. Under no circumstances is this author acting as the attorney for the party who posted the question or as the attorney for subsequent readers to the question or response and no attorney client relationship is being formed. This attorney's comments are not intended to be a substitute for getting legal advice from a licensed attorney. A reader of this author's comments should never act on the information provided in these comments as though these comments were legal advice and should always seek legal advice in a personal consultation with an attorney in their jurisdiction before taking action. The information provided here is not intended to cover every situation with similar facts. Please remember that the law varies between states and other countries and is always changing through actions of the courts and the Legislature.

Joanne Reisman

Joanne Reisman


Correction - I read you as stating that she was moving from Portland to Seattle. Please read the above but know that Washington will continue to have jurisdiction over the case if Washington issued the original judgment, unless and until Washington and a subsequent state court agree to transfer the jurisdiction.

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