Thursday, April 23, 2020

COVID 19 and Visitation

Unfortunately, some hostile parents are taking advantage of the governor’s stay-at-home orders as an excuse to not let the other parent have his or her visits, or to not return a child after a visit.

This was wrong at the outset of the COVID 19 emergency, and since then the courts have made it clear that it is legally wrong.

Travel to visitation for the exchange of children is considered an “essential activity,” and all parenting plans are to be followed (unless some new orders emerge).  The court is clear that this game-playing is not to occur.

If it does, then a motion to return the child will have to be filed electronically, and the court will decide whether the situation is urgent enough to schedule a telephonic hearing in the near future, or to await a contempt of court finding, and ordering make-up time, at a later date.

These are hard times that do not need to be made harder by parents behaving selfishly.

We are Mason Law of Spokane serving Eastern Washington with aggressive and effective representation in Washington State divorce proceedings, and we have already been in the thick of the COVID 19 special procedures.  Call us at 1707 West Broadway in Spokane at (509) 443-3681 for an electronic or telephonic appointment.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

I Can’t Pass up that Job Opportunity.

What if you are faced with a chance to further your career, but it means moving out of the state of Washington with your minor child of whom you have primary care?  If an existing court order gives someone else any visitation rights at all, you must give that person notice of your plan to move with your child.  Understandably, they do not want to have their child move further way, and they have 30 days to start a court action by filing a formal objection to your relocation. (Even simply moving to another school district creates the right to a trial.)

Alternatively, maybe you are the parent who does not have primary placement, but you do have rights to time with the child under your parenting plan, and you are the one filing the objection to the relocation. You have a right to a trial that will occur on the basis of statutory factors (e.g., like relationship strength, relatives in the area, or unique needs of the child, among many factors). The parent with primary placement is “presumed” to be able to move, and the non-primary parent must “rebut” that presumption at trial, on the statutory factors.

Even parents with 50/50 parenting plans will have a relocation trial based upon those statutory factors (but without a presumption in favor of either parent).

The court must show that it has considered all of these factors, and your task at trial is to present evidence on those factors.  Here at Mason Law, in Spokane, WA, we help you present evidence on all the statutory factors to help lead the Washington State Family Court to a correct decision. Please give us a call at Mason Law today.  That number is (509) 443-3681.