Moving a Child’s Residence After Divorce
If you have minor children, there are limits on where you can move after a divorce; those same limits apply during the divorce process. Wisconsin Statute 767.481 deals with moving a child’s residence within or outside the state of Wisconsin.
Steps Needed in Order to Move a Child’s Residence
You are required under Wisconsin law to provide not less than 60 days advance written notice to the other parent, and a copy to the court if (a) moving your legal residence out of state, or (b) if moving your legal residence within the state of Wisconsin at a distance of more than 150 miles from the other parent. You also must provide the same written notice if a parent plans to remove a child(ren) from the state for more than 90 consecutive days.
The written notice must be sent by certified mail. The notice must include the parent’s proposed action, including the specific date and location of the move or specific beginning and ending dates and location of the removal and that the other parent may object within the statutory time frame of 15 days after receiving the notice.
Can the Non-Custodial Parent Object to the Proposed Move?
Within 15 days after receiving the notice, the other parent may send to the parent proposing the move or removal, a written notice of objection to the proposed move. A copy of the written objection should also be filed with the court. If the parent who is proposing the removal or move receives notice of the objection within 20 days after sending the notice, that parent may not move with or remove the child(ren) pending resolution of the dispute, or final order of the court, unless the parent obtains a temporary order allowing the removal.
What Happens If the Other Parent Objects?
When the court receives a copy of the notice of objection, the court is required to promptly refer the parents for mediation and may also appoint a guardian ad litem for the child(ren). If mediation does not settle the dispute, the court will schedule a contested hearing on the matter.
If the parent proposing the move or removal has sole legal or joint legal custody of the child and the child resides with that parent for the greater period of time, the parent objecting to the move or removal may file a petition, motion or order to show cause for modification of the legal custody or physical placement order affecting the child. The court may modify the legal custody or physical placement order after considering certain statutory factors. These factors include:
- Whether the modification is in the child’s best interest.
- Whether the move or removal will result in substantial change of circumstances since the entry of the last order affecting legal custody or the last order substantially affecting physical placement.
There is a rebuttable presumption that continuing the current allocation of decision making under a legal custody order or continuing the child’s physical placement with the parent with whom the child resides for the greater period of time is in the best interest of the child. This presumption may be overcome by a showing that the move or removal is unreasonable and not in the best interest of the child.
If the parents have joint legal custody and substantially equal periods of physical placement with the child, either parent may file a petition, motion or order to show cause for modification of the legal custody or physical placement order. The court may modify an order of legal custody or physical placement after considering certain statutory factors that circumstances make it impractical for the parties to continue to have substantially equal periods of placement and that the modification is in the best interest of the child.
If the parent proposing the move or removal has sole legal or joint legal custody of the child and the child resides with that parent for the greater period of time or the parents have substantially equal period of physical placement with the child, as an alternative to the petition, motion or order to show cause, the parent objecting to the move or removal may file a petition, motion or order to show cause for an order prohibiting the move or removal. The court may prohibit the move or removal if, after considering certain statutory factors, the court finds that the prohibition is in the best interest of the child.
The court must consider in its’ determination the following factors:
- Whether the purpose of the proposed action is reasonable.
- The nature and extent of the child’s relationship with the other parent and the disruption to that relationship which the proposed action may cause.
- The availability of alternative arrangements to foster and continue the child’s relationship with and access to the other parent.
The court may consider the following factors as well:
- The court may consider the child’s adjustment to the home, school, religion and community.
- The court may not consider the use of the availability of electronic communication as a factor in support of modification of a physical placement order or in support of a refusal to prohibit a move.
- The court is required to appoint a guardian ad litem for the minor child(ren) and to hold a hearing on the matter as soon as possible.
If you have questions about the relocation process, or if you need help filing the proper paperwork, contact us by filling out the contact form below, or give us a call anytime.