But what happens to such arrangements if one parent wishes to move away from the other parent? Can a parent simply pack up and move the child to a different state? An experienced Fox Point child relocation attorney can assist you in dealing with these issues. The family law team at Karp & Iancu, P.C., represent parents involved in child custody and child relocation matters. We can explain how the law works in this area and provide you with effective representation in order to protect your rights as a parent.
What Are the Steps in the Child Relocation Process?
The basic rule in Wisconsin is that when both parents have periods of physical placement with a child, either parent can relocate within 100 miles of the other parent without seeking permission from the court. In other words, if one parent decides to move across town, they do not need to clear it with the other parent ahead of time.
Crossing the 100-mile threshold, however, does require judicial permission. The parent who wishes to relocate must file a motion with the circuit court that includes the following:
- Relocation Plan. The parent must provide certain basic information about the proposed move, including the date, the state and city of their new residence, the reason for the move, and if necessary a proposed new placement schedule for the child.
- Change in Custody. The relocating parent may also request a change in legal custody for the child. In Wisconsin, custody defines which parent has the right to make major life decisions affecting the child, as opposed to placement, which deals with how much time the child spends with each parent.
- Notice to the Other Parent. The other parent must be formally notified of the relocating parent’s motion. The non-relocating parent has the right to file and serve written objections to the relocation and may submit an alternate proposal for the modification of custody or placement.
Once a parent files a motion for relocation, the circuit court will schedule an initial hearing within 30 days. The non-relocating parent may file their objections up to 5 days before the scheduled hearing date. It is also important to note that if the parents already lived at least 100 miles apart before one parent decides to relocate, then it is not necessary to file a motion with the court. The relocating parent simply has to provide written notice to the other parent at least 60 days before the move.
What Happens When a Parent Objects to Relocation?
If the non-relocating parent objects at the initial hearing, the court will then schedule a final hearing within another 60 days. The judge may direct the parents to attempt mediation to resolve any objections on their own and appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s legal interests during the proceedings. During this time, the parent who wishes to relocate generally cannot move unless the judge grants a temporary relocation order.
Should the court ultimately have to decide the merits of a relocation motion, the judge will make that determination based on an assessment of the “best interest of the child.” This requires the court to look at a number of factors, such as:
- Has the parent opposing relocation exercised their placement rights in the past?
- Is the parent who wishes to relocate doing so due to acts of abuse or domestic violence committed by the other parent?
- How will the proposed relocation affect each parent’s placement rights?
- What changes might be necessary to the placement schedule?
- How will the parents deal with the transportation of the child between their respective homes?
Ideally, child relocation is not a contested matter. Both parents are able to sit down and come up with a new placement schedule that accommodates the relocation and addresses issues like transportation costs. A judge will still need to sign off on such an agreement. But it is still far preferable to a contested proceeding.