Parents need to know that Wisconsin law limits their ability to move when they have minor children. Ultimately, most parents will need court approval before they move more than 100 miles away. In some cases, the court will need to revise both custody and placement as a result. Contact Karp & Iancu, S.C. today to discuss your options.
Can I Move a Short Distance?
Wis. Stat. § 767.481 is the relevant law. You can move within 100 miles before the relevant provisions come into play.
What if I Want to Move More than 100 Miles?
When both parents have physical placement, Wisconsin law requires that you take certain steps if you intend to move more than 100 miles away from the other parent:
First, you must file a motion with the court that has jurisdiction over child custody. The motion should include the following information:
- The day you intend to move
- Where you intend to move to, i.e., municipality and state
- Why you are moving
- A proposed new placement schedule which allocates where the child will reside during the year and allocates costs of transportation
- A request to change legal custody (if applicable)
Second, you need to send a copy of your motion along with an Objection to Relocation form to the other parent. The other parent can object within 5 days of the hearing date.
When is the Initial Hearing?
Once a motion is filed, the court schedules an initial hearing to take place within 30 days. This deadline is key if you are the parent who wants to object to the move.
What if You Already Live More than 100 Miles Away?
You do not have to file a motion with the court. Nevertheless, the law does require that you provide written notice to the other parent at least 60 days before you move. Include the date you intend to move and your new address. Also, keep a copy for your records.
How Do You Object to a Move?
Many parents object because they do not want to lose contact with their child. Although minor moves won’t disrupt the parent-child relationship, a major move (say out of state) certainly could.
To object, you must fill out the Objection to Relocation form, which the other parent should have provided to you. You will need to explain why you are objecting.
You also need to include a proposed placement schedule, along with a description of costs and transportation responsibilities. This is your proposed schedule if the court gives the other parent the green light to move.
File this form with the court at least 5 business days before the initial hearing and serve a copy on the other parent.
You will also need to go to the initial hearing to object to the motion to relocate. If you don’t, then a judge will likely accept the motion. Hire a Milwaukee child relocation attorney to represent you.
What is the Process for Resolving this Dispute?
Let’s say one parent objects to the move. If so, the court will set another hearing to take place within 60 days. The court should also refer them to mediation and appoint a guardian ad litem for the children. This guardian serves as the child’s voice in the proceedings and investigates what the child wants.
Parents generally cannot move while this motion is pending before the court. Nonetheless, a judge might grant a temporary order allowing a parent to relocate if the judge believes it is in the child’s best interest. This temporary permission lasts only until the judge resolves the motion.
Parents should take these temporary orders seriously. Yes, it’s only temporary permission to move a child. However, some judges easily convert a temporary order into a permanent one under the belief that it’s best to maintain the “status quo.” If you are objecting to the other parent moving, you should also vigorously object to a judge giving the green light for a temporary move.
How Does a Judge Decide Relocation Disputes?
Judges consider many factors as part of the analysis. They do not simply rubber stamp a request to move, nor do they automatically deny all requests.
- First, a judge considers whether a parent has exercised their court-ordered time with the children. If a parent hasn’t, then his objection to a proposed move probably won’t block it.
- Second, judges consider whether the relocation relates to abuse. For example, one parent might want to move because she is being stalked by her ex-husband.
- Third, a judge must analyze the move’s expected impact on the placement schedule. For example, the objecting parent might only see the children during school vacation in the summer. A move probably won’t impact this placement schedule significantly.
- Fourth, a judge always analyzes what is in the child’s best interest, using the factors found in Wis. Stat. § 767.41(5). A judge will not approve a move if it isn’t in the child’s best interest.
How Does a Milwaukee Child Relocation Attorney Help?
As you can see, judges hearing a contested motion must juggle many different considerations. An attorney can present your case in the best light and emphasize any considerations that work in your benefit. A lawyer can also minimize any information that works against you. For example, you might not have seen your children much over the past year, but you have an understandable reason—you’ve been sick most of the time.
Can Parents Agree to Relocation?
Yes. They can also draft a new placement schedule, which should include transportation responsibilities and costs. You can file this new placement schedule with a stipulation, telling the judge you have reached an agreement. A judge will sign off on it so long as it’s in your child’s best interest. The judge will also revise the order for custody and/or physical placement.