At Karp & Iancu, S.C., our experienced West Bend child relocation attorneys can help you in addressing these issues. In fact, child relocation is something that requires court approval in most cases. And both parents–and the child–have certain legal rights that must be respected. Whether you are the parent seeking or opposing relocation, we offer skilled, compassionate representation designed to assist you in navigating this difficult subject.
When Does a Parent Need Court Permission to Move with a Child?
Wisconsin law uses the terms custody and placement to describe different aspects of the parent-child relationship. Child custody actually refers to a parent’s right to make legal decisions on behalf of the child. In many cases, the court will grant both parents joint custody, meaning they have an equal say in making major decisions affecting their child.
Child placement, in contrast, describes the amount of time that the child spends in the care of a parent. If the child spends more than 75 percent of nights with one parent, that parent has primary placement. If the child spends at least 25 percent of their nights with each parent, that is considered shared placement.
So long as both parents have some amount of physical placement, neither parent is allowed to relocate more than 100 miles from the other parent without court approval. This means that purely local moves do not require permission. For example, you cannot prevent your ex from moving to a different house down the street from where they currently live. But if they wanted to relocate from, say, West Bend to Ohio, then the courts would come into play.
The parent who wishes to relocate must file a motion with the court that has jurisdiction over child custody and placement. This motion must include a relocation plan, which includes:
- when the proposed location would take place;
- the city and state of the new residence;
- the reason the parent wishes to relocate;
- if applicable, a new placement schedule; and
- a proposed allocation of costs to transport the child between each parent’s homes following the relocation.
If the parents already live at least 100 miles from one another, then it is not necessary to file a motion for a subsequent relocation. However, the parent that relocates must still provide the other parent at least 60 days written notice before moving. This notice must specify the date of the proposed move and the parent’s new address.
How Will a Wisconsin Judge Decide Whether to Approve Child Relocation?
When a parent files a motion for relocation, the appropriate court schedules an initial hearing within 30 days. The other parent may object to the relocation during this time. (An Objection to Relocation Form must be sent to the parent along with the other parent’s motion for relocation.) The objecting parent must give their reasons for opposing the move and provide a proposed placement schedule and allocation of transportation costs should the court grant the motion.
As with any decision affecting custody or placement, Wisconsin courts must ultimately put the “best interest of the child” ahead of either parent’s wishes. The court will therefore look at a number of factors when deciding whether to approve or prohibit relocation, such as:
- whether the parent proposing relocation has offered good reasons for moving;
- the existing relationship between the child and the other parent–and how that may be disrupted if the child is relocated;
- whether there are alternative arrangements that would make it easier for the child to continue their relationship with the non-relocating parent.
In some cases, it may be necessary for either parent to seek an outright modification to the existing custody and placement arrangements previously approved by the court. Again, a judge will consider whether such changes benefit the child. No parent should assume that a court will modify custody or placement without good cause.