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Moving Out of State With Your Child? Don't Risk Getting Charged with Custodial Interference

Posted by Steve Karimi | Feb 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

Maybe you got a new job. Maybe it's a new partner? Or maybe it's for extended family reasons. Whatever the case, if you are planning to move out of state and are doing so as a custodial parent with the intention to bring your child with you: you need to be careful and do it in accordance with the law. Far too many times, a custodial parent gets a new job and thinks he or she has the right to move with the child to the new location, but when you do so, you could be charged with custodial interference.

Retaining an experienced lawyer is important so that you know what you can, cannot, and should do first. In the meantime, here are a few things to know before you begin packing your suitcases.

Four Things to Keep in Mind Before Moving Your Child Out of Washington

  1. If you do not have an existing court order that outlines the other parent's or third party's visitation rights with your child, you may be within your rights to move outside of the state. Washington's relocation laws do not apply to you since there is no court order.
  2. Custodial interference means it is unlawful to purposely hide your child from family members, including another parent or grandparents. You cannot independently decide and whisk your child off to another state with the idea of “losing the relatives left behind.” In addition to permanent moves out of state, this fact also applies to vacations and trips, however long or short they may be.
  3. If there is an existing court order in place that provides visitation rights with your child to another party, you will need to prepare and fill out court forms designed to notify the court and the other parties of your plans. When you submit these forms, the court will notify the other parties of your plans. The law requires a 60-day lead time, so you should give yourself at least two months to prepare for a move or trip out of Washington state.
  4. When you file your intent to move notice, you will do so in the same court you petitioned for your divorce or where you prepared your parenting plan. Failing to give proper notice could result in facing legal consequences. And you don't want that, so retain an experienced lawyer to help you with the process.

Even when the custodial parent follows the letter of the law, that parent still must await a court order prior to legally moving the child. Custodial interference is a misdemeanor when it occurs the first time, but it can be a felony in Washington in other instances. It all depends on the circumstances and whether law enforcement believes the child was exposed to risk of illness or physical injury, as well as other criteria. If your child's other parent is not given the proper notice, you could face serious charges.

Get the Advice You Need from an Experienced Washington Attorney

Making plans for a move out of state is an exciting prospect, especially if it is for reasons like advancing a career or pursuing academic goals. If you are confused about Washington State's relocation laws or have already been accused of custodial interference, schedule a consultation with Karimi Law Office to learn your rights. Our attorneys can help you understand the law and how it will affect your specific situation. Call our office today to schedule your consultation. As a parent, your relationship with your child could depend on it. Call today.

About the Author

Steve Karimi

Steve Karimi attended Pepperdine University School of Law. After graduation he worked as a prosecutor in Seattle where he gained valuable insight to the criminal justice system. Attorney Karimi uses his experiences as a prosecutor everyday only now he fights for the justice of those accused.


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If you were arrested or a loved one has been charged with a crime in Seattle or surrounding areas of Washington State, the Law Offices of Steve Karimi can help. Call 206-660-6200 24 hours a day for a free consultation.

Seattle Defense Lawyer

Named a "rising star" in criminal defense by Washington Law and Politics magazine, Mr. Karimi is a former prosecutor for King County who uses his insight into prosecution strategies to protect his clients' rights in criminal court.