Family Law Services Focused on Your Needs

Relocation Attorneys in Tacoma

Relocating with Your Child After Divorce? Call Groves Law Offices.

With whatever things life throws at you, it may become to move with your child or children after divorce. This may be easier said than done. Before moving, you must comply with Washington State relocation law and properly serve all persons entitled to visitation with a Notice of Relocation. The other party might file a Notice of Objection. What can you do then?

Turn to a divorce lawyer in Tacoma from Groves Law Offices, LLP. Our attorneys have years of experience with relocation matters in Washington and can answer all your questions. We can help you properly serve all persons and be of support if you receive a Notice of Objection. Have a complex matter involving relocating your children after divorce? Contact us today.

Contact Groves Law Offices or call (253) 210-2008 to for a free consultation with our Tacoma relocation lawyers.

Relocation Laws in Washington State

After divorce, a parent with whom the child lives a majority of the time (residential parent) must comply with Washington State relocation law when it is their intention to relocate the child to a new residence. While the state may not impede the ability of adults to move, the courts can make determinations on whether children may be relocated. Such relocations must comply with the laws of the Washington State Relocation Act.

Relocation laws are complex, however, there are some simple things to remember:

  • All persons with visitation rights must be notified.
  • If there is no court order and no other persons have visitation rights or parenting time with the child, you may move.

If you are planning to move and another person has visitation rights, you must give notice at least 60 days before the date of your move.

How is the Relocation Process Started?

According to Washington state relocation law, in order to properly initiate a relocation action, all persons entitled to visitation with the child need to be properly served with a notice of relocation. The notice must be personally served to the other parties or by mailing, requiring return receipt no less than 60 days prior to the date of the intended relocation or within 5-days of knowing of intended relocation, if the relocating person could not have known 60 days in advance. The notice must include certain specific information such as:

  • The date of the intended move
  • The location of the new intended residence including phone number, school name, and address
  • A proposed residential schedule

How to Serve Notice of My Intention to Relocate

The requirements and methods of serving the notice to relocate may depend on the presence of factors that warrant exceptions. A relocating party may delay the service of the notice to relocate by 21 days if they are entering a domestic violence shelter due to threats from the other party, or they are relocating to avoid an unreasonable, immediate, and clear risk to the safety or health of a child or person. The relocating party may also seek an ex-parte hearing to request that all or part of the requirements to provide notice may be modified or waived. Additionally, if the relocating party is in a confidentiality program or has a court order which allows them to withhold their confidential information, such information will not be required to be disclosed in the notice of relocation. The party entitled to notice still retains the right to object to the relocation or the proposed residential schedule.

What Happens if I Don't Serve the Notice of Relocation Properly?

Failure to comply with the relocation statutes may result in a finding of contempt if the court determines there was not substantial compliance with the law. The court may also order the children to be returned to the state until a further determination of custody can be made. Regardless of whether the non-residential party was given proper notice or not, they still retain the right to object to the relocation of the child. The relocation laws are complicated and have many exceptions and rules.

Relocating Within the Same School District in Washington

When the relocation will be within the same school district, notice must still be given to all other people entitled to residential time or visitation with the child. The form of the notice does not have to be as formal when the relocation is outside the school district and may be made by any reasonable means. Objections to the relocation will not be considered but the other parties may still seek a modification or adjustment of the parenting plan if certain conditions are met.

It Has Been Over 30 Days Since I Served the Required Party, What Now?

If the party requiring notice is properly served, they have 30 days to file a notice of objection. If they do not object to the relocation, absent good cause within the required time, the court will consider their objection to the relocation waived.

At that time, the residential parent should file their notice of relocation with the court with proof of service and the revised residential schedule. They may then obtain an ex-parte order modifying their residential schedule in compliance with the one proposed by the relocating parent. Their revised parenting plan would then become the new residential schedule that the parties would follow.

An ex-parte order approving the relocation may also be pursued before 30 days have elapsed since the date of service with proof that no objection will be filed and a copy of the notice provided and proof of service. The non-residential parent is entitled to the visitation provided in the revised parenting plan even if they failed to object to the relocation. A motion for contempt should fail if a party has not objected to the relocation, without good cause, but they may be able to file a modification of child custody under RCW 26.09.260.

The Other Party Filed a Notice of Objection. What Do I Do?

If the non-relocating party serves and files an objection to relocation within the 30-day deadline, the court will determine whether to allow the relocation. The first hearing set will be to determine if the court will allow the relocation of the children prior to a final hearing which will be held at a later date, often after the date of the intended relocation. One of two things will generally happen:

  1. 1) Temporary orders may be issued to restrain the relocation prior to a final hearing if notice was not properly given and the other party was substantially prejudiced and the relocation occurred without an agreement of the parties or in the absence of a court order. The court may also restrain the relocation if the court determines that it is likely that at the trial, the court will not approve the residential parent’s request for relocation. If the relocation is temporarily restrained, the parties will likely be required to follow their current parenting plan until the trial.
  2. 2) Temporary orders permitting the relocation prior to a final hearing may be issued if there was proper notice, or it was not required, and the court concludes that it is likely the court will approve the relocation at the trial. If this occurs, the court must also establish a temporary parenting plan that would be followed by the parties until the trial is held.

How Will the Court Make its Final Determination on the Relocation?

The court will make a final determination on the relocation of the children with the presumption that the relocation will be permitted if the relocating party has provided their valid reasons for the move. The non-residential parent has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the move would be detrimental to the child’s interests and the benefits of the relocation are outweighed by the harms such a move would pose.

It should be noted that the court should not consider evidence whether the relocating party will give up their relocation if the child's relocation is denied.

Call a Tacoma Relocation Lawyer for a Free Review

If you need assistance with starting the relocation process, turn to Groves Law Offices, LLP. Our attorneys have a thorough understanding of divorce law in Washington and are available to answer your questions about relocation with your child. Do not hesitate to reach out and learn more about your legal options.


This is a legal discussion, not legal advice. With your future relationship with your children at stake, seeking the advice of experienced family law attorneys in the early stages is invaluable. Our Tacoma relocation lawyers are prepared to present your best case to the court but will also work towards a win-win situation in cases where a compromise can be reached.

Call our skilled relocation lawyers in Tacoma for a free review at (253) 210-2008.

What Our Clients

Have To Say About Us
  • “Above and beyond helpful and worthy of hiring.”


  • “I highly recommend Laura. She is kind, relatable and confident.”

    Former Client

  • “She's an amazing attorney. Extremely intelligent, listens to her clients carefully and fights for you.”


  • “I couldn't be more satisfied with the services that I received.”


  • “They are simply FANTASTIC! They are the Les Schwab of the Attorney field!”


  • “She is not afraid of late hours or weekends whatever it takes she will do. I have great respect for her.”


  • “Hes a great guy and very knowledgeable. Highly recommended”

    Former Client

  • “Travis has been amazing throughout my entire divorce and had carefully walked me through all the steps to a successful resolution.”


  • “Laura Groves is a kind, knowledgeable, trustworthy, and great human being as well as a Great Lawyer!”


  • “It was the best decision I ever made hiring Travis Groves”


  • “Travis is the best attorney I have met. He is very honest and realistic.”

    Former Client

  • “Mr. Groves, went out of his way to help me out.”


  • “I will definitely be going back to their office for my next case!”


  • “Laura Groves was professional, effective, and efficient. She is ethical and very responsive.”


  • “Our case was saved and is now over thanks to the great job that was done by Laura and Travis”

    Chris & Tiffany